February 18, 2015
IRAS 15103-5754, a newly created planetary nebula, provides new clues about the death of stars similar to the Sun.
The birth of planetary nebulae, objects resulting from the death of low and intermediate mass stars (typically like the Sun), is often thought of as a relatively quiet process compared to the end of very massive stars characterized by violent supernova explosions. . However, a study led by researchers from the Andalusian Institute of Astrophysics (IAA-CSIC) with the participation of the Astrobiology Center (CAB, CSIC-INTA) shows that explosive phenomena also intervene in the formation of planetary nebulae.
“Billions of years from now, the Sun will use up its nuclear fuel, expand into a red giant, and expel much of its mass. The end result will be a white dwarf surrounded by a bright planetary nebula. Despite the fact that all stars with less than ten solar masses undergo this change, we still do not know many details of this brief but important final stage in the life of the stars ”, points out José Francisco Gómez, researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia ( IAA-CSIC) leading the investigation.
And the study of object IRAS 15103-5754, which is part of a group of sixteen objects known as “water sources”, has provided important clues about the process. These water sources are evolved stars, midway between red giants and planetary nebulae, showing intense jets of material detectable in the millimeter wave range by maser emission (Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, equivalent to laser but for microwaves) produced by water vapor molecules (water maser emission).
via Center for Astrobiology.
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