Ionized Nebula Found Around
Astronomers studying new images of Westerlund 1
(orange), a super star cluster
in the Milky Way, have spotted something spectacular:
An ionized nebula of glowing
hydrogen gas (green dots
within the orange) around red
supergiant W26. W26 doesn’t have
enough heat to make the gas glow all
by itself. Astronomers believe that the
ionizing radiation is coming from nearby
hot blue stars or a fainter, much hotter
companion star. Whatever the source
is, the bright cloud makes it easier for
researchers to study W26.
around vast star.
Pixelteq-third-Sept-bleed-marks.pdf 4 8/7/13 1
its cloud, which closely resembles the
nebula of a star that went supernova
in 1987, may tell us how expired stars
seed the universe with the building
materials for planets and life.
W26 is the biggest known star in
the universe. As it nears the end of its
life, the star will eventually explode as
a supernova. This rare look at W26 and
Astronomers used the European
Southern Observatory’s Very Large
Telescope Survey Telescope in Chile.
The tally of exo- planets passed
1,000 in late 2013.
Of these, 12 may be
in the “goldilocks”
zone—not too hot and
not too cold to retain
water on their surface.
The Extrasolar Planets
Encyclopaedia houses a list
of all of these new worlds at
a sun-like star.
Astronomers estimate that there are 17 billion Earth-sized exoplanets in the Milky Way galaxy.