Agriculture
Flush-Free Fertilizer
Watering the Air
Treating peanut allergy bit by bit
Amphibians
Toads
Newts
Salamanders
Animals
Sea Giants and Island Pygmies
Revenge of the Cowbirds
Feeding School for Meerkats
Behavior
Training Your Brain to Feel Less Pain
Listen and Learn
Two monkeys see a more colorful world
Birds
Pelicans
Flightless Birds
Doves
Chemistry and Materials
Hitting the redo button on evolution
The hottest soup in New York
Music of the Future
Computers
Programming with Alice
Electronic Paper Turns a Page
Games with a Purpose
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Mini T. rex
Downsized Dinosaurs
Fossil Fly from Antarctica
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
Shrinking Glaciers
Coral Gardens
Groundwater and the Water Cycle
Environment
Food Web Woes
The Down Side of Keeping Clean
Spotty Survival
Finding the Past
Digging Up Stone Age Art
Ancient Cave Behavior
A Long Haul
Fish
Swordfish
Perches
Sting Ray
Food and Nutrition
Chew for Health
Strong Bones for Life
The Essence of Celery
GSAT English Rules
Adjectives and Adverbs
Order of Adjectives
Capitalization Rules
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Ministry of Education Announces 82 GSAT Scholarships for 2010
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Mastering The GSAT Exam
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Mathematics
Math of the World
Detecting True Art
Math and our number sense: PassGSAT.com
Human Body
Football Scrapes and Nasty Infections
Workouts: Does Stretching Help?
Spit Power
Invertebrates
Scallops
Ticks
Flies
Mammals
Foxes
Dachshunds
African Gorillas
Parents
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
Physics
Extra Strings for New Sounds
Hold on to your stars, ladies and gentlemen
Invisibility Ring
Plants
Bright Blooms That Glow
Farms sprout in cities
Fungus Hunt
Reptiles
Cobras
Rattlesnakes
Garter Snakes
Space and Astronomy
Holes in Martian moon mystery
Pluto, plutoid: What's in a name?
Killers from Outer Space
Technology and Engineering
A Light Delay
A Micro-Dose of Your Own Medicine
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
The Parts of Speech
Pronouns
What is a Preposition?
What is a Verb?
Transportation
Charged cars that would charge
Robots on a Rocky Road
Revving Up Green Machines
Weather
A Change in Climate
Catching Some Rays
Antarctica warms, which threatens penguins
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™