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Boomerang Nebula: Unravelling The Mystery Of The Coolest Natural Place In The Known Universe

First Posted: Jun 07, 2017 05:25 AM EDT
The Boomerang Nebula: The Coolest Place In Outer Space
The Boomerang Nebula is the coolest natural place in the known universe.
(Photo : SciShow Space/YouTube screenshot)

Scientists have finally figured out the mystery of the Boomerang Nebula, which has an average temperature of just 1 Kelvin ( -272.15 degrees Celsius). It is considered the coldest natural object in the known universe.

The researchers have now answers on how this cloud of gas has temperatures colder than the empty space itself. They found that an ancient, red giant star has created the coldest known object, the Boomerang Nebula. It is so cold because a small companion star flung itself into the heart of the bigger red giant. This has triggered most of the red giant's matter to be released as a super cold outflow of gas and dust, according to Science Alert.

The scientist used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to gather information about the Boomerang Nebula. ALMA is a series of radio telescopes that are based in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. It provides insights and accurate calculations about the age, kinetic energy, mass and extent of the nebula.

Raghvendra Sahai, the lead author of the study that was printed in the Astrophysical Journal and astronomer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said that these new data indicate that most of the stellar covered from the huge red giant star has been blasted out into space at speeds far beyond the capabilities of a single, red giant star. He further said that the only way to release much mass at such intense speeds is from the gravitational energy of two interacting stars. This explains the mystifying properties of the ultra-cold outflow, in which its close companions could be responsible for the violent demise of most stars in the universe.

Wouter Vlemmings, a co-author of the study and an astronomer at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, added that the extreme properties of Boomerang challenge the conventional ideas about such interactions. This also grants them with one of the best opportunities to examine the physics of binary systems that has a giant star.

The Boomerang Nebula is thought to be a star system that is evolving toward the planetary nebula phase. It is about 5,000 light-years away from the planet Earth and located in the constellation Centaurus. It is also referred to as the Bow Tie Nebula and considered the coolest natural place known in the universe.

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