The image of such clarity was able to obtain for the first time. It can be the key to understanding the mechanism of formation of strange forms of space nebulae, according to the website of the Observatory.
The nebula of Saturn, discovered by William Herschel on 7 September 1782, is at a distance of about five thousand light-years from Earth and has nothing to do with the planet with a similar name. This is the name of the object was due to its strange shape, resembling the eye or the sphere with ring around.
Once a cloud of gas in space was the star with a small mass, which in the end turned into a red giant and began to expand its outer layers. Stellar material ejected from the hot core and were fitted with ultraviolet radiation. Thus was formed the circumstellar nebula composed of dust and the bright hot gas. At the core of Saturn lies the doomed star, visible in this image in the formation of a white dwarf.
The obtained with the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument mounted on one of the four parts of the telescope VLT in Chile. He is so powerful that it not just creates an image, but also collects information about the spectrum or range of colors of the object in each point of the image. The resulting image of the Saturn nebula reveals many complex structures, including an elliptical inner shell, the outer shell and the halo. It also reveals two previously undiscovered stream extending from each end of the long axis of the nebula.
Scientists intrigued by a complex distribution of dust inside the nebula. Its concentration decreases at the edge of the inner shell, where, apparently, it collapses. There are several potential mechanisms of this destruction. The inner shell is, essentially, an expanding shock wave, so she could hit dust grains and destroy them, or create an additional effect of heating, the volatile dust.
Mapping gas and dust structures in planetary nebulae will help to understand their role in the life and death of stars with low mass, and also explain how nebulae acquire their strange and complex shapes.
MUSE the possibilities extend far beyond the planetary nebulae. This sensitive tool can also study the formation of stars and galaxies and to display the distribution of dark matter.
Not long ago, scientists published the most accurate ever
created a map of the distribution of dark matter in our Universe. It takes into account data on more than 26 million galaxies and will allow us to understand the origin of this substance, and the nature of the other mysterious phenomena of dark energy.