Truth & Beauty #2: Dying Stars

Slate has a terrific gallery up this week featuring the best astronomy and space photos of 2013. Why are the processes of nature unfailingly beautiful? Do our conceptions of beauty flow not from human-constructed aesthetics but from existence itself?

Slate science writer Phil Plait tells us about the image shown here:
When stars die, they do it in style. This is NGC 5189, a glowing gas cloud seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. At the center is a white dwarf, the remains of what was once a star probably about twice the mass of the Sun. As it ran out of fuel, it expelled huge quantities of gas into space, exposing its dense core. White hot, spinning rapidly and possessed of a killer magnetic field, the white dwarf spewed out twin jets of energy and matter from its poles, energizing the surrounding material. However, the star is wobbling, so these lighthouse-like beams appear to carve out a gigantic S shape in the star’s former outer layers. At least, we think that’s what’s happening: This object isn’t completely understood, though that’s is the most likely explanation for this dramatic and lovely object.
View my first Truth & Beauty post: "Brainbows."


Popular Posts