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And one more before 2010 is gone! :) Happy New Year everyone!
This is the final apocalyptic ending to many medium to low mass stars; a planetary nebula is forming as the star expells its outer layers in violent pulsations of solar wind, ionizing the previously ejected gas. This intense UV radiation causes the terrestrial planets to literally boil, outgassing their lighter elements to the stars. The gas giant planets fare no better, getting their outer layers flayed by the intense solar wind, while the shattered remnants of the innermost worlds collide with everything in range. Any comet inside of the Oort cloud is also lit up by the star's inevitable fury. The star itself is becoming a predegenerate star, known as a PG1159 star, after it's prototype, PG1159-035 [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PG_1159-035]. It will eventually become a white dwarf, and this whole system will begin to resemble the Ring Nebula [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_Nebula] and the Helix Nebula [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helix_Nebula].
These examples (Ring and Helix nebulae) are actually much larger and older visions (the Helix is believed to be 10,000 years +/- 2,000 yrs) of what my image shows. [http://www.phys.ncku.edu.tw/~astrolab/mirrors/apod_e/ap101103.html] is a close up of the Necklace Nebula, an example that might resemble my situation more accurately, unfortunately it is so small and far away, galactically speaking, that it is difficult to resolve the details.
More information on the interior structure (the knots of gas) of the nebula can be found here [http://www.crya.unam.mx/rmaa/RMxAC..15/PDF/RMxAC..15_odell.pdf] (only the first paragraph is in Spanish)
- December 31, 2010
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