Hubble Spots Space 'Cannonballs' Ejected By Stars

First Posted: Oct 08, 2016 04:25 AM EDT

Numerous people love to do stargazing. But what if they see some cannonballs? That's what Hubble has spotted in space recently. The NASA's space telescope captured images of plasma 'cannonballs'. Researchers believe the blobs of plasma may start the explanation about the planetary nebula formation.

According to UPI, the cannonballs were ejected from V Hydrae, which is a bloated red giant 1,200 light-years from the Earth. Hubble data shows that they are twice the size of Mars. They travel fast that they can span the distance between the moon and the Earth for only half an hour. According to the astronomers' estimation, the stellar cannon has been shooting plasma balls for approximately 400 years.

As of writing, scientists can't explain the event. According to them, the red giant can't account for the material ejected. For this reason, astronomers say that the progenitor might be an unseen companion star.

Meanwhile, the discovery seems to offer answers to important questions. For instance, V Hydrae may offer a glimpse into the formation of planetary nebulae. "We suggest that these gaseous blobs produced during this late phase of a star's life help make the structures seen in planetary nebulae," said astronomer Raghvendra Sahai from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

From Hubble's Imaging Spectrograph, images revealed blobs from the V Hydrae system that were of different distances. Some revealed blobs miles away from the stellar pair and recently ejected blobs.

Furthermore, Sahai explained that red giants don't possess accretion disks; but most likely, they have companion stars. Such companion stars may have lower masses due to slower evolution. Additionally, the model that the experts propose may explain the presence of bipolar and multipolar planetary nebulae and the knotty jet-lime structures in these objects. Lastly, it is important to take note that the big red partner may eventually consume their stellar companion.

According to, the team of scientists plans to use Hubble for more V Hydrae observations. The Astrophysical Journal published their results.

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