Agriculture
Cleaning Up Fish Farms
Microbes at the Gas Pump
Vitamin D-licious Mushrooms
Amphibians
Tree Frogs
Poison Dart Frogs
Salamanders
Animals
A Butterfly's New Green Glow
Mating Slows Down Prairie Dogs
Missing Moose
Behavior
Mosquito duets
Surprise Visitor
Slumber by the numbers
Birds
Carnivorous Birds
Rheas
Pheasants
Chemistry and Materials
Supergoo to the rescue
Scientist Profile: Wally Gilbert
A Light Delay
Computers
The science of disappearing
Computers with Attitude
The Earth-bound asteroid scientists saw coming
Dinosaurs and Fossils
South America's sticky tar pits
Feathered Fossils
The man who rocked biology to its core
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth
Springing forward
Giving Sharks Safe Homes
A Dire Shortage of Water
Environment
Power of the Wind
Food Web Woes
Island Extinctions
Finding the Past
Words of the Distant Past
The Taming of the Cat
The Puzzle of Ancient Mariners
Fish
Lampreys
Megamouth Sharks
Bass
Food and Nutrition
Strong Bones for Life
A Pepper Part that Burns Fat
Symbols from the Stone Age
GSAT English Rules
Order of Adjectives
Subject and Verb Agreement
Who vs. That vs. Which
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Tarrant High overcoming the odds
March 21-22, 2013: Over 43,000 students will take the GSAT Exam
Scotiabank Jamaica Foundation Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) Scholarships
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Exam Preparation
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
GSAT Mathematics
Math of the World
Math is a real brain bender
It's a Math World for Animals
Human Body
Football Scrapes and Nasty Infections
Sea Kids See Clearly Underwater
Spitting Up Blobs to Get Around
Invertebrates
Spiders
Arachnids
Wasps
Mammals
Dalmatians
Flying Foxes
Hoofed Mammals
Parents
Children and Media
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Physics
Project Music
Road Bumps
Strange Universe: The Stuff of Darkness
Plants
Pumping Up Poison Ivy
Assembling the Tree of Life
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
Reptiles
Geckos
Alligators
Boa Constrictors
Space and Astronomy
Sounds of Titan
An Earthlike Planet
Gravity Tractor as Asteroid Mover
Technology and Engineering
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
Roll-Up Computer Monitors to Go
Squeezing Oil from Old Wells
The Parts of Speech
Problems with Prepositions
What is a Preposition?
What is a Verb?
Transportation
Tinkering With the Basic Bike
Robots on the Road, Again
Charged cars that would charge
Weather
Where rivers run uphill
Catching Some Rays
Watering the Air
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™