Thursday, June 26, 2008

Eclipsing Star in 2009

Let me tell you what a star is.  (I have a good reason lol).  This is the area of space known as M24 (M for Messier) and the uncountable stars in this one tiny piece of the universe.   

            Globular star-cluster

Stars are cosmic energy-engines that produce heat, light, ultraviolet rays, x-rays, and other forms of radiation.  They are composed largely of gas and plasma, which is a super-heated state of matter composed of subatomic particles.  Three out of every four stars exist as part of a binary system, with two mutually orbiting stars. 

         baby stars

Now that we have that done, next year, say mid-2009, a star that has baffled scientists for years will eclipse.  This is the star called Epsilon Aurigae which is a third-magnitude, F-type SUPER-GIANT locked in a grouping of three other stars.  It is found in the constellation Auriga, "The Charioteer" and is a binary star that last eclipsed during 1982-1984. 

 exploding star

     

The Epsilon Aurigae system is the most interesting and startling system, puzzling astronomers for over 150 years.  There's many reasons but here's a big one:

            

                  light-echoes from a super-giant

The eclipse takes TWO YEARS to complete, every 27.1 years.  This means its mass must be gigantic.  There has been no satisfactory explanation for this, and what makes it even more exciting is there seems to be a "mid-eclipse" brightening.  How can that be??   There's one explnation - remember what I said in the description of what a star is?  Okay so, since the eclipsing body, Epsilon, is a giant cloud of gases enclosing two small stars orbiting each other, perhaps they sweep out a giant area in the middle - like a donut.  A very BIG donut.

Here's where the constellation is:

                    

This is the constellation Auriga.  The star Epsilon Aurigae is found in the upper right.  I'd suggest getting a nice pair of binocs before next spring!  Imagine, a star eclipsing, and taking two years to do it.   

              

         A mile-wide asteroid streaking across stars

              

Space Area M51 with progenitor star - can you see it in the upper right, very bright?  A progenitor is a "creator" star, the origin of the mass that exists in its near-space. 

                

                           More very young stars

                

                 Remnant of a star gone super-nova

                

                                    Spiral Galaxy M100

                   

                  

                               Multi-generational stars

             

            

                     Light echoes from exploding star

                

                                       Star Cluster

              

Usually called "The Eye of God" this is the Helix Nebula, a gaseous envelope being expelled by a Dying Star

======================================

Pictures courtesy of Hubble

                   

 

 

 

7 comments:

xxroxymamaxx said...

That's so cool!!  I love space!  Love, Shelly

shrbrisc said...

wow I didn't know that , very interesting
hugs
Sherry

aimer said...

Absolutely fascinating, as always. I love looking at the night time sky and wondering about all the mysteries that it holds. You are good at shedding some light on some of those mysteries.--Sheria

gehi6 said...

Oh that "eye of God' one, yes, I enjoyed looking at  these photos of the stars as I always do when I come to your journal.I went down to Doc's the other day and he was watching an old Carl Sagan lecture on the cosmos this time on the constellations and the different names given them by different cultures.  Constellations always fascinated me, and Sagan emphasized how steady the stars are in their paths, rising and setting the same for hundreds of years.  I suppose we must take that into consideration when we look at dying stars.  I used to be frightened of the idea of huge dying stars. Do they frighten you.  Sagan also emphasizes how many stars there are, as many as grains of sand on the beaches.  That is a term he used that I find hard to wrap my limited perception around, but I do take comfort in the vastness of the universe.  We will never run out of space to accomodate all the spirits who have ever lived I am sure.  Gerry
http://journals.aol.com/gehi6/daughters-of-the-shadow-men/  

rdautumnsage said...

Fascinating! (Hugs)Indigo

mutualaide said...

Beautiful photos ... every one.  

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