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NASA Space

Kepler to Investigate Newly Discovered Nebula 38

derGoldstein writes with an article in DigitalTrends: "An amateur astronomer recently discovered what has been confirmed to be one of the best looks yet at a planetary nebula, the last, gassy breath of a dying star. The nebula, named Kronenberger 61 after the enthusiast who discovered it, will offer insights into the future and death of our own sun."
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Kepler to Investigate Newly Discovered Nebula

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  • by molo ( 94384 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @05:18PM (#36888414) Journal

    Amy Winehouse, is that you?


    • Comedy 101: If you're going for offensive, you have to be funny.

      Seriously, that was Limbaugh-esque in its complete laziness.

    • Who is Amy Winehouse?
  • What you are seeing (Score:5, Informative)

    by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @05:30PM (#36888528) Homepage

    The pretty picture in TFA is caused by the nebula being lit up by radiation (mainly ultraviolent) from the dying star at the center. As the star dies from running out of stuff which is easy to efficiently fuse in the core, the star undergoes contractions and expansions which push the outer layers away to form a nebula. The term "planetary nebula" is a bit misleading- they are called that because they look like planetary discs if one looks for them in a small telescope. Phil Plait has a pretty good summary of what we are looking at - []

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ultraviolent radiation? Awesome!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by symbolset ( 646467 ) *

      While that's a nice story, it's probably mostly incorrect. Most planetary nebulae like this are created when a massive Population II star (over 120 solar masses) that formed in a metal-poor region that was usually deposited by a population III star, explodes in a pair instability supernova []. This is a destructive explosion that usually completely obliterates the original star in one blast, having converted up to a fifth of its mass into iron or higher elements. It isn't some pulsing thing that happens ove

  • It's weird to have Kepler to investigate it

    Exactly because Kepler looks at the star, and through its variations detects planets.

    No star, what's Kepler supposed to do?

    Also, it doesn't zoom on the subjects, it examines several at once.

    By all means point Hubble at the Nebula, not Kepler, unless I'm missing something

    • Re:Weird (Score:4, Informative)

      by ToxicPig ( 1614125 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2011 @05:58PM (#36888734)
      There is still a star. It is likely a white dwarf at this stage, or nearing that state. It can be seen in the photo as the white star in the very center of the gas sphere. IF Kepler even detects planets around the white dwarf, it would be extremely interesting (and scientifically significant) to determine what happened to the planets as the star went through its death throes. The inner planets would likely be consumed. The outer planets may have enjoy a brief stint in the Goldilocks Zone of the red giant, and may have very interesting chemistry. Life? Doubtful. Still, cool science to be done here in a somewhat isolated point in time in a star system's life.
      • by JamesP ( 688957 )

        Great! Now it makes sense

        But I supposed this is for a 2nd stage Kepler observation, (unless it's already in its field)

    • Kepler looks at a region of the say covering around 115 square degrees. However, due to bandwidth limitations we are only able to download data for a limited number of pixels. We predefine around 150k pixel masks and download the data for these. While our primary mission is to find dips in brightness of stars caused by planets passing in front of them we also observe other types of time variable astrophysics. Scientists from around the world write proposals to observe interesting astrophysical phenomena and
  • First he will consume images of the nebula, then he will consume your brains.
  • Hey, look everybody! It's an amateur astronomer!
  • Here is a link to the press release from Gemini Observatory: []
  • I guess on a terraforming planet, this would be the start of getting some real self sustaining atmosphere and biological step would be single cell organisms appearing, and so on....might be the next earth in a few million years if the moon is able to sustain enough rainfall...

  • planetary nubula

    Someone needs to flog their editor...

Forty two.