Ring Nebula Is More Like A Jelly Doughnut, NASA Says | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Ring Nebula Is More Like A Jelly Doughnut, NASA Says

The Ring Nebula, whose iconic shape and large size make it a favorite of amateur astronomers, can now be seen in new detail, after NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a sharp image of the nebula. Researchers say the new clarity reveals details that were previously unseen, and a structure that's more complex than scientists had believed.

"The nebula is not like a bagel, but rather, it's like a jelly doughnut, because it's filled with material in the middle," says C. Robert O'Dell of Vanderbilt University, who leads a team of researchers studying the Ring Nebula. They combined Hubble's visible-light images with infrared data from telescopes on Earth.

The basis of the new image was captured by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3, which was installed in 2009.

Located in the constellation Lyra, the nebula is some 2,000 light-years from Earth. The new view of the nebula allowed O'Dell's team to create a precise 3-D model of the nebula.

"O'Dell's team suggests the ring wraps around a blue, football-shaped structure. Each end of the structure protrudes out of opposite sides of the ring," according to NASA.

By comparing the recent examination of the Ring Nebula with data from 1998, researchers determined that the nebula is expanding at more than 43,000 miles an hour, with the center moving faster than the main ring.

"All of this gas was expelled by the central star about 4,000 years ago," NASA says. "The original star was several times more massive than our sun. After billions of years converting hydrogen to helium in its core, the star began to run out of fuel. It then ballooned in size, becoming a red giant. During this phase, the star shed its outer gaseous layers into space and began to collapse as fusion reactions began to die out. A gusher of ultraviolet light from the dying star energized the gas, making it glow."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Church Of Scientology Calls New HBO Documentary 'Bigoted'

The filmmaker says Going Clear, harshly critical of the Church of Scientology, is about the dangers of "blind faith." The church has hit back with an aggressive public relations effort of its own.
NPR

Think Nobody Wants To Buy Ugly Fruits And Veggies? Think Again

Remember that old movie trope, in which the mousy girl takes off her glasses to reveal she was a beauty all along? A similar scenario is playing out among food waste fighters in the world of produce.
NPR

Amazingly, Congress Actually Got Something Done

The leaders and members must, in a word, compromise. And on this occasion, Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did just that, with skill and savvy.
NPR

Can Republicans Get Ahead In The 2016 Digital Race?

When Sen. Ted Cruz threw his hat into the ring, it happened first on Twitter. Political news is breaking more and more on social media, and both sides face different challenges in reaching out.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.