Agriculture
Cleaning Up Fish Farms
Microbes at the Gas Pump
Watering the Air
Amphibians
Poison Dart Frogs
Salamanders and Newts
Tree Frogs
Animals
A Spider's Taste for Blood
Koalas, Up Close and Personal
Return of the Lost Limbs
Behavior
The case of the headless ant
Hitting the redo button on evolution
A Recipe for Happiness
Birds
Hummingbirds
Peafowl
Albatrosses
Chemistry and Materials
Small but WISE
The science of disappearing
The solar system's biggest junkyard
Computers
Troubles with Hubble
Two monkeys see a more colorful world
The Earth-bound asteroid scientists saw coming
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Have shell, will travel
The Paleontologist and the Three Dinosaurs
Digging Dinos
E Learning Jamaica
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
Ice Age Melting and Rising Seas
Undersea Vent System Active for Ages
Warmest Year on Record
Environment
Missing Tigers in India
Spotty Survival
Lessons from a Lonely Tortoise
Finding the Past
Traces of Ancient Campfires
Early Maya Writing
Stone Tablet May Solve Maya Mystery
Fish
Bass
Basking Sharks
Sturgeons
Food and Nutrition
Building a Food Pyramid
Sponges' secret weapon
A Taste for Cheese
GSAT English Rules
Order of Adjectives
Finding Subjects and Verbs
Who vs. Whom
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
March 21-22, 2013: Over 43,000 students will take the GSAT Exam
Scotiabank Jamaica Foundation Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) Scholarships
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT Mathematics
Setting a Prime Number Record
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
It's a Math World for Animals
Human Body
Nature's Medicines
A Fix for Injured Knees
Attacking Asthma
Invertebrates
Cockroaches
Sponges
Caterpillars
Mammals
German Shepherds
Oxen
Gerbils
Parents
Children and Media
How children learn
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
Physics
Gaining a Swift Lift
Electric Backpack
Spin, Splat, and Scramble
Plants
Plants Travel Wind Highways
Flower family knows its roots
Sweet, Sticky Science
Reptiles
Boa Constrictors
Komodo Dragons
Caimans
Space and Astronomy
A Great Ball of Fire
Gravity Tractor as Asteroid Mover
Ringing Saturn
Technology and Engineering
Reach for the Sky
Weaving with Light
Crime Lab
The Parts of Speech
Pronouns
What is a Preposition?
Adjectives and Adverbs
Transportation
Ready, unplug, drive
Middle school science adventures
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
Weather
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
In Antarctica watch the heat (and your step)
Warmest Year on Record
Add your Article

A Dead Star's Dusty Ring

In 5 billion years, the sun will swell into a huge ball that will fry Earth or even swallow it up. Our star’s outer layers will then fly off, and its core will shrink into a dense, fading object called a white dwarf.

Then what? New images of a dead star are giving scientists a glimpse of what might happen to our solar system when its time comes.

The observations come from the Spitzer Space Telescope, which recently focused on a huge, eye-shaped cloud of gas and dust called the Helix nebula, 700 light-years from Earth.

The Helix nebula contains the leftover debris that a star spewed as it collapsed. Inside lies a white dwarf that is still hot. This means that the star died only recently.

At first, scientists were puzzled by Spitzer’s infrared images of the Helix nebula. When the star’s outer layers flew off, the researchers expected any extra dust to get pushed away, too.

Instead, the images showed lots of dust hovering around the white dwarf, between 35 and 150 astronomical units (AU) away. One AU is the distance between the sun and Earth.

In our solar system, many comets orbit the sun within a region called the Kuiper belt, beyond Neptune. Helix’s star might have had orbiting comets, too. The scientists propose that, when the star went poof, its comets started to collide and crumble, creating the distant dust ring.

Previously, astronomers had found dusty rings around even older white dwarfs whose nebulae were long gone. Spitzer studies of one of these old stars found that the dust was made up of the same stuff as a typical comet.

Other studies have turned up 40 white dwarfs with atmospheres that contain unexpectedly high levels of certain metals, including sodium. So, scientists suspect that these white dwarfs captured the remains of ancient planets, which originally contained the metals.

“We’re starting to think [that the metals] are probably the smile on the crocodile,” says Marc J. Kuchner of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., “the last bits remaining of a dead planetary system, fed to the white dwarf.”—E. Sohn

A Dead Star's Dusty Ring
A Dead Star's Dusty Ring








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™