28 September 2011

Fried Egg Nebula

Does the universe want bacon with that?

Fried Egg Nebula
An international team of astronomers recently used the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile to capture a unique picture of a hypergiant star situated about 13,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Scorpius.  For obvious reasons, they've playfully named it the Fried Egg Nebula.  

This humongous yellow star shines half a million times more brightly than our Sun (is there a sunblock strong enough?) and is a thousand times bigger. If it replaced our Sun, this 20-solar-mass star would almost engulf Jupiter.  Earth would be toast.

This star is quite active, hence the two spherical shells of dust and gas that surround the central star, setting up the fried-egg appearance.  This material was jettisoned outward in a series of explosive bursts over the last few hundred years.  When this hypergiant finally dies as a brilliant supernova some day, watch out! 

Image Credit: ESO/E. Lagadec

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