Real Star Wars: Violent confrontation between two stellar objects captured in new stunning photo

Astronomers were able to capture a stunning image of a nebula created by two stars fighting one another

Astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) were able to capture a beautiful image of a multi-coloured nebula. The beautiful cosmic structure was created by the violent confrontation between two stars.

The astronomers were able to photograph the results of the stellar fight using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile. The cosmic object in the photos has been identified as the binary star system HD 101584.

The Dying Red Giant Star

HD 101584
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which ESO is a partner, have spotted a peculiar gas cloud that resulted from a confrontation between two stars. One star grew so large it engulfed the other which, in turn, spiralled towards its partner provoking it into shedding its outer layers. ALMA ESO/NAOJ/NRAO, Olofsson et al.

According to astronomers from the ESO, HD 101584 is inhabited by a massive central star that's about to become a red giant. This means the star, which is similar to the Earth's Sun, has already reached the end of its life and has depleted its fuel source. As it enters this stage, the star goes through a chemical process that causes its outer layer to expand and shed.

Eventually, only the core of the red giant will remain, which will become a dense stellar object known as a white dwarf. The ESO noted that the Sun will go through the same destructive process once it dies.

"For the Sun and stars like it, this change will take it through a phase where, having burned all the hydrogen in its core, it swells up into a large and bright red-giant star," the ESO explained in a statement. "Eventually, the dying Sun will lose its outer layers, leaving behind its core: a hot and dense star called a white dwarf."

A Stellar Clash Of Two Stars

Helix Nebula
A dying star is throwing a cosmic tantrum in this combined image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), which NASA has lent to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. In death, the star's dusty outer layers are unraveling into space, glowing from the intense ultraviolet radiation being pumped out by the hot stellar core. NASA/JPL-Caltech

As HD 101584's red giant expanded it encountered its small neighbouring star. According to astronomers, the red giant has already grown to a point that it became capable of consuming the smaller star. However, instead of being completely consumed by the red giant, the smaller spiralled into the core of its large neighbour.

"As the main star puffed up into a red giant, it grew large enough to swallow its lower-mass partner. In response, the smaller star spiralled in towards the giant's core but didn't collide with it," the ESO explained. "Rather, this manoeuvre triggered the larger star into an outburst."

This resulted in a powerful outburst that scattered the red giant's outer layers. Through ALMA's imaging capabilities, the outburst of gas, dust and other stellar materials produced a colourful nebula around the two stars.

Related topics : Space