Astronomers crack 'Fried Egg Nebula' in infrared sky

   Sep 28, 11:28 am

Washington, Sept 28 (ANI): Scientists have for the first time captured images of one of the brightest stars in the infrared sky surrounded by a huge dusty double shell - thanks to the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT).

The star and its shells resemble an egg white around a yolky centre, leading the astronomers to nickname the object the ' Fried Egg Nebula'.

The monster star, known to astronomers as IRAS 17163-3907, has a diameter about a thousand times bigger than our Sun.

At a distance of about 13 000 light-years from Earth, it is the closest yellow hypergiant found to date and new observations show it shines some 500 000 times more brightly than the Sun.

The observations of the star and the discovery of its surrounding shells were made using the VISIR infrared camera on the VLT. The pictures are the first of this object to clearly show the material around it and reveal two almost perfectly spherical shells.

"This object was known to glow brightly in the infrared but, surprisingly, nobody had identified it as a yellow hypergiant before," said Eric Lagadec (European Southern Observatory), who led the team that produced the new discovery.

Yellow hypergiants are in an extremely volatile phase of their evolution, undergoing a series of explosive events - this star has ejected four times the mass of the Sun in just a few hundred years.

The material flung out during these bursts has formed the extensive double shell of the nebula, which is made of dust rich in silicates and surrounded by gas.

Professor Albert Zijlstra, from The University of Manchester, said: "It is amazing that one of the brightest stars in the infrared sky had previously gone unnoticed. We are seeing a very rare event, when a star is beginning to blow off its outer layers, as a prelude to its final explosion as a supernova."

The discovery has been published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. (ANI)

Rosetta's lander set to target 'Site J' on comet for touchdown Sep 16, 12:45 pm
London, Sep 16 (ANI): Rosetta's lander Philae will target 'Site J' on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for its landing, it has been reported.
Full Story
1.3 bln yr old Martian meteorite may point to possibility of life on 'red planet' Sep 16, 12:17 pm
London, Sep 16 (ANI): Analysis of 1.3 billion years old Martian meteorite has helped researchers provide more evidence of the possibility of life on Mars.
Full Story
NASA will 'fail to find 90pc of potentially dangerous asteroids' by 2020 Sep 16, 11:55 am
London, September 16 (ANI): NASA's inspector general has said that the agency won't be able to meet its goal of finding 90 percent of nearby and potentially dangerous asteroids larger than 460 feet in diameter.
Full Story
Gaia probe finds its 'first ever' supernova Sep 13, 11:22 am
London, Sep 13(ANI): Gaia has recently discovered its first ever stellar explosion in another galaxy while scanning the space.
Full Story
Comments

LATEST STORIES
TOP VIDEO STORIES
PHOTO GALLERY