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Cosmic Fireworks Display Seen Inside Helix Nebula

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the pretty-pictures dept.

Space 34

goran72 writes "A new image, taken with an infrared camera on the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii, has revealed a cosmic fireworks display, in the form of tens of thousands of previously unseen comet-shaped knots inside the Helix Nebula. Unlike previous optical images of the Helix Nebula knots, the infrared image shows thousands of clearly resolved knots, extending out from the central star at greater distances than previously observed. These images enable astronomers to estimate that there may be as many as 40,000 knots in the entire nebula, each of which are billions of kilometers/miles across. Their total mass may be as much as 30,000 Earths, or one-tenth the mass of our Sun."

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I still insist that... (4, Funny)

The Pirou (1551493) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586671)

The French do it better. This amateur Helix Nebula is just slapping together any old 'exposed inner core' with another 'exposed inner core' over 10,000 to 1,000,000 years to illuminate ejected material. Where's the precision in that?

The Helix Datacenter (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28586677)

A new image, taken with an infrared camera on the Slashdot Telescope on SourceForge, has revealed a cosmic fireworks display, in the form of tens of thousands of sparks flying from the NAOJ.org hosting site. Unlike previous optical images of the hosting site, the infrared image shows thousands of clearly resolved sparks, extending out from the central rack at greater distances than previously observed. These images enable sysadmins to estimate that there may be as many as 40,000 sparks in the entire datacenter, each of which is several inches long. Their total heat may be as much as 30,000 hits per second, or one-tenth the power of a Sun Fire E10K.

Planetary origin (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586695)

So the practical implication of this is that rocky planets are a lot more common than previously thought, or that we have a better explanation of how they're created, or... what? These are great photos, but what's the story here?

Re:Planetary origin (1)

haifastudent (1267488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587769)

42

Re:Planetary origin (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28588989)

These are great photos, but what's the story here?

When you have great footage, you don't need a story. What news have you been watching?

obligatory google cache link goes here (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586745)

google cache is here [209.85.135.132] , but it seems slashdotted too.

Re:obligatory google cache link goes here (2, Informative)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586805)

Google cache doesn't include images, so of course you're still left waiting for the images from the original site. Fortunately, the original site's slashdotting ends instantly in astronomical time.

Molecular clouds ? Planetary Comets ? (4, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586819)

Here is the original paper : http://arxiv.org/abs/0906.2870 [arxiv.org] . Note that HST detected about 3500 of these, so this is an advance, not an overturning, of older work. These knots are pretty strange.

The Helix Nebulae is a sphere of gas expelled by a dying star, probably in multiple episodes, with. many thousands of these "comet-like objects." Typical theoretical speculation is that they are gas instabilities as old gas is overtaken by new gas expulsions [arxiv.org] , possibly with dusty cores [harvard.edu] . In addition, the knots are expanding (away from the central star) significantly slower [harvard.edu] than the gas of the nebulae. If you Google or go to Arxiv.org, you can find lots of speculation on these knots.

For myself, I have to wonder if these could be "planetary comets" - i.e., giant comets resulting from the heating of bodies in the Oort cloud of the star. The mass is about right, and that would explain their longevity, but it is not clear why they would be expanding away from the central star.

Re:Molecular clouds ? Planetary Comets ? (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586843)

The really interesting thing to me about this is this : If these knots reveal in any way what is already existing in the outer solar system of the dying star, as opposed being some odd expulsion from the star, or the interaction between different expulsions, this is telling us something very profound about outer solar systems : There could be a lot of stuff out there. One tenth of a Solar mass - 30,000 Earths - is a lot of dark baryonic matter. Maybe we should go out and look in our own Oort cloud and see what's hiding there.

Spoiling the Obvious Joke (1, Offtopic)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587003)

"Suburu" is the Japanese name for the Pleiades cluster. I've heard from various sources that the word means "Unite", "5 brothers" or is just a given name. (Anybody speak Japanese?) It's also the nickname of Fuji Heavy Industries, which was formed by the merger of a Japanese manufacturing cartel also known as the 5 brothers.. And FHI, of course, makes the car, which uses the Pleiades as its logo.

Although in Hawaii, the Suburu Telescope is owned by the Japanese National Observatory, hence the Japanese name.

Re:Spoiling the Obvious Joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587111)

7 sisters, not five brothers.

Re:Spoiling the Obvious Joke (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587381)

The Subaru car logo has fewer than 7 stars on it, because Fuji Heavy Industries has fewer than 7 sub-companies.

Alas, the Subaru telescope was not built by Fuji at all, but by Mitsubishi Electric, which is part of the same industrial conglomerate as Mitsubishi Motors. This confuses people tremendously.

But it's kind of fun to be able to say "I drive a 500-ton Subaru built by Mitsubishi."

Re:Spoiling the Obvious Joke (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28602677)

Well, the Pleiades cluster has has a lot more than 7 stars &mdash hundreds in fact. How many of these stars count as part of the star formation is a cultural matter. Western tradition says 7, but I believe Japanese tradition says 6. I could be mistaken.

You'll notice that the Suburu logo has 6 stars. Not 4. That because FHI's current structure of 4 divisions didn't exist in 1953. That was when the company was formed out of 5 smaller companies. Hence the one big star and the 5 little ones.

Re:Spoiling the Obvious Joke (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28605435)

Yes, of course, I misspoke; there are seven "bright" stars recognized in the Pleiades in western traditions.

The bit about FHI history is interesting - I hadn't really kept track of how many divisions they have currently, since I work for the "other" Subaru (the one this thread is about). :)

Re:Spoiling the Obvious Joke (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28613935)

Hey, since you work for NAOJ, perhaps you know somebody who actually speaks Japanese? If so, please ask them what the literal translation of "Suburu" actually is. If my "5 brothers" story is nonsense, I'd love to know for sure.

Re:Spoiling the Obvious Joke (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28615289)

Hey, since you work for NAOJ, perhaps you know somebody who actually speaks Japanese?

Quite a lot of somebodies actually. But that was true before I worked for them; there are tons of international students here from Japan (and I have Japanese cousins).

If so, please ask them what the literal translation of "Suburu" actually is. If my "5 brothers" story is nonsense, I'd love to know for sure.

The explanation I've heard is that it translates as "to (come/bring/tie/bind) together." Think of how the ancients would have perceived the stars in the Pleiades, all bundled together when all the other stars around them are more spread out.

Most myths I could find that made reference to a number at all stuck with 7 whatevers.

Re:Spoiling the Obvious Joke (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28629009)

I got the 5-brothers story from a flyer written by a Suburu dealer. Obviously not carefully researched!

Re:Spoiling the Obvious Joke (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28629447)

If you can't trust a car dealer to be well-versed in astronomy and Asian mythology, who can you trust?!

Re:Spoiling the Obvious Joke (1)

haifastudent (1267488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587821)

From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

The company is named after the star cluster Pleiades, which in Greek mythology is known as the Seven Sisters, and in Japanese mythology the name is "Subaru", which roughly translated into English means, "to govern", "unite," or "gather together". The company logo is influenced by the star cluster. The large star in the logo represents Fuji Heavy Industries, and the five smaller stars represent the current five companies that are united under the FHI group.

Re:Spoiling the Obvious Joke (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28590683)

Yes, and I believe everything I read in Wikipedia.

Evidence of Extra-Terristrial life? (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587019)

Is this evidence of extra-terrestrial life?

The organized and deliberate complexity of those 'knots' certainly seems to suggest so.

Re:Evidence of Extra-Terristrial life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587335)

yes theres obviously bo other explanation

scale (1)

cathector (972646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587641)

can this be right ?
"The size of each knot is about five times as big as Pluto's orbit in the Solar System"

ie, that the size of each of those little knots is 5x the size of our entire solar system ? wow.

from http://www.naoj.org/Pressrelease/2009/07/02/fig2.jpg [naoj.org] and http://www.naoj.org/Pressrelease/2009/07/02/fig4.jpg [naoj.org] i would estimate the size of the entire nebula to be about 400 to 500 times the size of the solar system.

Re:scale (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587739)

Size is tricky here - each knot is thought to be about 5 times the mass of the Earth, and could be less if they were fed by a central body. Those knots are like comet comas and tails - they would make a very good vacuum, here on Earth.

Re:scale (1)

cathector (972646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587917)

thanks for the reply.
i'm not sure i follow. do you mean the quote about "five times as big as Pluto's orbit" is referring to mass ?

Re:scale (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28590207)

No, just size. It's a huge ball of very thin gas, like a comet but much bigger.

Happy 4th of Quagflurghlewitz! (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 5 years ago | (#28589221)

Oh say can you see
By the nebula's light
What so proudly we hailed
At the comet's last gleaming... ... o'er the land of the flneep
And the home of the g'znarbilywarblave!

Cosmic Fireworks...how about the close observers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28590081)

What no one is saying or maybe even thinking is: "Hope to God that no people call a planet of that star 'home'!". Just think if you were a resident of a planet in that system. That fireworks display might mean one of those fireballs just carried off your moon and destabilized the orbit of your planet, turning it into an ellipse with a really cold high point. Since it is in a nebula, maybe the inhabitants of that system possess interstellar flight capability and at least some of them left, seeing as we are talking about a really old system. I am sure some wag will have something cute or 'skeptikal' about this, but suppose were are really thinking about real people, however alien to us. They would be God's creations as well.

Re:Cosmic Fireworks...how about the close observer (1)

deprecated (86120) | more than 5 years ago | (#28592305)

Won't someone think of the alien children?

Re:Cosmic Fireworks...how about the close observer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28593055)

we obviously need to ban stars. I mean look at our sun, it is the number one heat source contributing to global warming.

Aaaaaahhhhh Chooooo! (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#28593287)

The last technician to work on the spacecraft before launch sneezed on the lens and was too embarrassed to clean it off.

But there are no fireworks in space... (1)

onemorechip (816444) | more than 5 years ago | (#28595659)

Citation here. [yahoo.com]

Re:But there are no fireworks in space... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28613201)

When I started reading that, I thought it was going to say that they weren't going to have fireworks inside the space station and thought: well duh!

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