“Mmmmm…doughnuts” Homer Simpson.
Today is Friday, and I am in charge of bringing in the doughnuts (or donuts if you prefer) and bagels for everyone in the office.
Today it turns out that the jelly doughnuts and bagels have switched metaphoric states.
Credit: Alson Wong (http://www.alsonwongastro.com/m57-ring.htm)
Most of my pictures look like my friend Alson Wong’s image above. (Alson, I needed to borrow yours because I can’t find mine, thanks). You could always see that there was some material in the center portion, but it was thought to be the expanding matter blown off from the central star.
However, a new image by Hubble has lead team leader C. Robert O’Dell of Vanderbilt University to state that: “The nebula is not like a bagel, but rather, it’s like a jelly doughnut, because it’s filled with material in the middle.”
One of the reasons that the ring nebula is so interesting, is because it is a prelude to what could happen with our Sun. Although the star at the center of the ring was much larger than our Sun, it should end up in a similar fate. Blowing of material and becoming a white dwarf. From millions of times the size of the Earth, to about the same size (although a lot hotter and denser).
Someone once asked me why I keep taking images that everyone else has already imaged. The answer, of course, is you never know what you will find. Many new discoveries in space happen because of directed research by professionals (like this one), but a good amount of discoveries happen because some amateur astronomer was imaging the same thing and something new showed up.
We have only been peering at the heavens seriously for about 400 years. We tracked the stars way before that, but serious, scientific inquiry is only about 400 years old. The star that formed the ring is relatively young in comparison, the event happened about 4,000 years ago and will go on for another 10,000 years or so.
BIG PLUG for RTMC.
This weekend, if you want to learn more about astronomy, how to make your own telescope, view the night sky. The RTMC Astronomy Expo is being held near Big Bear California this weekend. Go here for more information. I’ll be there and I’m sure that the will be jelly doughnuts….mmmmmm.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +