Eskimo Nebula Composite
Credit: M. A. Guerrero (IAA-CSIC) and ESA

Inside the Eskimo

Low-mass stars shed their coats at the end of their lives. These "coats" (really the star's outer layers) are somehow ejected from the star, and move outward into interstellar space, forming beautiful structures called planetary nebulae. One particularly beautiful example of a planetary nebula is the Eskimo Nebula, pictured above in an image by the Hubble Space Telescope. The Eskimo Nebula is composed of an outer nebula and an inner one, indicating that the ejection process is episodic. A new observation with the XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory shows that the inner nebula is filled (or perhaps surrounded?) with hot, X-ray emitting gas, pictured above in blue. Astronomers suspect that the hot gas is either produced by the collision between the inner and outer nebular shells, or perhaps by the collision between fast, bipolar outflows from the star and the inner nebula.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:24:07 EDT