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Astronomers discover 2000-year-old remains of a nova



  Astronomers discover 2000-year-old remains of a nova
Near the orb of Messier 22, the team of scientists discovered the remains of a nova. Picture credits: ESA / Hubble and NASA, F. Göttgens (IAG)

For the first time, a European research team from Göttingen University discovered the remains of a nova in a galactic globular cluster. The remnant is located near the center of the globular cluster Messier 22 and was recently observed with modern instruments. The results are published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics .

A nova is an explosion of hydrogen on the surface of a star, which makes it much brighter. The remains form a luminous mist. "The position and brightness of the remains are consistent with an entry from 48 BC in an old collection of observations by Chinese astronomers," says the first author Fabian Göttgens of the Institute of Astrophysics of the University of Göttingen. He did this promotion. Research in the research group Stellar Astrophysics under the direction of Professor Dreizler. "You probably saw the original nova in the same place," he adds. Modern measurements thus confirm one of the oldest observations of an event outside the solar system.

Globular clusters are large, spherical clusters of several hundreds of thousands of very old stars that circle together around their home galaxy. There are 1

50 known globular clusters orbiting the Milky Way. Messier 22 is one of those star clusters. It lies in the constellation Sagittarius towards the center of the Milky Way. It was observed along with two dozen other globular clusters using the MUSE instrument at ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile. The MUSE instrument was developed with the participation of the BMBF-funded Institute for Astrophysics. It not only creates images, but at the same time divides the starlight by color and measures the brightness of the stars depending on the color. This makes it particularly suitable for finding nebulae that often only glow in a particular color – usually red.

The newly discovered remains of the nova form a red glowing mist of hydrogen gas and other gases, which has a diameter of about 8000 times the distance between earth and sun. Despite its size, the fog is relatively light with a mass about 30 times that of the earth, as the gas was scattered by the explosion.

  •   Astronomers discover a 2000 year old remnant of a nova
    This Chinese text (marked orange) from an ancient collection of observations (https://ctext.org/) describes a sighting of the original nova by Chinese astronomers from the year 48 BC Credit: The Chinese Text Project ctext.org/
  •   Astronomers discover 2000 year old remnant of a nova
    The telescope that was used to observe the 2000 year old remnant of the nova: the world's most powerful laser beacon system, from which its four laser beams originate at the main telescope 4 at the VLT (Very Large Telescope). Picture credits: ESO / F Kamphues

Image: Hubble catches a crowded cluster


Further information:
Fabian Göttgens et al. Discovery of an ancient Nova remnant in the galactic globular cluster M22. Astronomy & Astrophysics (2019). DOI: 10.1051 / 0004-6361 / 201935221, Preprint: arXiv: 1904.11515: https://arxiv.org/abs/1904.11515

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University of Göttingen




Quote :
Astronomers discover 2000 year old rest of a nova (2019, April 30)
retrieved on April 30, 2019
from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-astronomers-year-old-remnant-nova.html

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