February 2, 2016

The Red Square Nebula

RedSquare_Tuthill_960.jpg

What could cause a nebula to appear square? No one is quite sure.

The hot star system known as MWC 922, however, appears to be embedded in a nebula with just such a shape. The featured image combines infrared exposures from the Hale Telescope on Mt. Palomar in California, and the Keck-2 Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. A leading progenitor hypothesis for the square nebula is that the central star or stars somehow expelled cones of gas during a late developmental stage. For MWC 922, these cones happen to incorporate nearly right angles and be visible from the sides. Supporting evidence for the cone hypothesis includes radial spokes in the image that might run along the cone walls. Researchers speculate that the cones viewed from another angle would appear similar to the gigantic rings of supernova 1987A, possibly indicating that a star in MWC 922 might one day itself explode in a similar supernova. APOD: 2016 January 31 - MWC 922:

Posted by gerardvanderleun at February 2, 2016 8:18 PM
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I'd be checking my lens.............

Posted by: Bill Jones at February 3, 2016 7:25 PM

It's a doorway opening to wonder, with light at the end of the tunnel we are escaping.
Ask three-year olds for truer answers.

Posted by: Howard Nelson at February 3, 2016 9:47 PM

That's a no-brainer. They should be using a square lens. Every picture of a kaleidoscope that I've ever seen was a square. Not even a rectangle, got to be a square.

Posted by: chasmatic at February 4, 2016 1:25 PM

Perhaps this is a distortion by a gravity lens.
OR...it is not natural.

Posted by: OdinsAcolyte at February 5, 2016 9:22 AM

It actually looks like a pyramid. You can distinctly see the top and bottom sides with a horizontal line halfway between the square and the bottom of the pyramid. The vertical sides are inferred from the top and bottom sides.

Posted by: John Surratt at February 5, 2016 6:45 PM

That's the kind of thing you'd see if something molten red hot was squeezing it's way to our side of a square ductwork tube in the heavens.

Posted by: Speller at February 7, 2016 2:38 AM