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New Nebula Discovered By Astronomers; New Kind Of Celestial Features Unearthed
The universe is made up of so many celestial objects like stars, planets, nebulae, and so on. Interestingly, astronomers have discovered a new type of nebulae called galactic emission nebulae. To note, nebulae are mainly made up of gas that's lit up with radiation from nearby stars. Nebula is considered one of the most beautiful forms in nature.
Astronomers Discover New Nebula
The team of astronomers says the new nebulae were discovered around binary stars, giving them the name of galactic emission nebulae. Particularly, the binary star YY Hya was the center of the new nebula discovery. Going into the details, the astronomers discovered that YY Hya is a periodic variable star consisting of a K dwarf star and a hot white dwarf (WD) partner.
Stefan Kimeswenger from the Department of Astro and Particle Physics at Innsbruck University, Austria, presented the new nebula discovered in the study titled 'YY Hya and its interstellar environment'. Here, the study explains that the binary star underwent a red giant phase when it released its outer layers of gas into space, lighting up with stellar radiation of dispersed gas.
"Toward the end of their lives, normal stars inflate into red giant stars. Since a very large fraction of stars is in binary pairs, this affects the evolution at the end of their lives. In close binary systems, the inflating outer part of a star merges as a common envelope around both stars. However, inside this gas envelope, the cores of the two stars are practically undisturbed and follow their evolution like independent single stars," Kimeswenger explained in a press release.
New Nebula Discovered With New Features
As one can see, the vast envelope is key here. And this was possible because of previous discoveries that go back 20 years. Interestingly, a group of French and German amateur astronomers was examining digitized historical astronomical images from the 1980s. As a matter of mere observation, they fragment of a nebula.
The record was later taken to the team of astronomers from the Innsbruck University, who found binary stars in a similar arrangement, but it was never with a fully developed envelope. This was also because a full envelope was never seen because of its massive size.
Particularly with the new nebula, the envelope is said to be over 15 light-years across. Astronomers believe it would be disrupted by the other stars in the universe. In the case of the YY Hya, it is above the galactic plane that is undisturbed by the other gas clouds.
"The diameter of the main cloud is 15.6 light-years across, almost 1 million times larger than the distance of the earth to the sun and much larger than the distance of our sun to its nearest neighboring star," explains Kimeswenger.
"Moreover, fragments as large as 39 light-years apart have also been found. Since the object lies slightly above the Milky Way, the nebula was able to develop largely undisturbed by other clouds in the surrounding gas," the statement reads. Ultimately, this shows us that there's still a whole lot more of the universe that we're simply unaware of.