Red Giant Plunging Through Space

Spitzer_sig06-029_1024

spitzer_sig06-029 November 30th, 2006

Credit: Infrared Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Ueta (Univ. of Denver); Artist Concept: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC/Caltech)

This image from the Spitzer Space Telescope (left panel) shows the "bow shock" of a dying star named R Hydrae (R Hya) in the constellation Hydra.

Bow shocks are formed where the stellar wind from a star are pushed into a bow shape (illustration, right panel) as the star plunges through the gas and dust between stars. Our own Sun has a bow shock, but prior to this image one had never been observed around this particular class of red giant star.

R Hya moves through space at approximately 50 kilometers per second. As it does so, it discharges dust and gas into space. Because the star is relatively cool, that ejecta quickly assumes a solid state and collides with the interstellar medium. The resulting dusty nebula is invisible to the naked eye but can be detected using an infrared telescope.

This bow shock is 16,295 AU from the star to the apex and 6,188 AU thick. 1 AU is the distance between the Sun and the Earth. The mass of the bow shock is about 400 times the mass of the Earth.

The false-color Spitzer image shows infrared emissions at 70 microns. Brighter colors represent greater intensities of infrared light at that wavelength. The location of the star itself is drawn onto the picture in the black "unobserved" region in the center.

Image Source: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/2183-sig06-029-Red-Giant-Plunging-Through-Space

Curator: Spitzer Space Telescope, Pasadena, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/info/18-Image-Use-Policy

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Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
R Hydrae R Hya HD117287 AAVSO 1324-22
Subject - Milky Way
Star > Evolutionary Stage > Red Giant
Star > Type > Variable

Distance

Universescale1
538 light years

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_pseudocolor Spitzer (MIPS) Infrared (Mid-IR) 24.0 µm
Multiple image composite; color mapping refers to left panel
Spectrum_ir1
Arrow_top_pseudocolor
Spitzer_sig06-029_1280
×
ID
sig06-029
Subject Category
B.3.1.4.   B.3.2.1.  
Subject Name
R Hydrae, R Hya, HD117287, AAVSO 1324-22
Credits
Infrared Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Ueta (Univ. of Denver); Artist Concept: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC/Caltech)
Release Date
2006-11-30
Lightyears
538
Redshift
Reference Url
http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/2183-sig06-029-Red-Giant-Plunging-Through-Space
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Distance taken from Fast Facts.
Facility
Spitzer
Instrument
MIPS
Color Assignment
Pseudocolor
Band
Infrared
Bandpass
Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
24000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
M
Coordinate Frame
Equinox
Reference Value
Reference Dimension
Reference Pixel
Scale
Rotation
Coordinate System Projection:
Quality
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Spitzer Space Telescope
URL
http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu
Name
Spitzer Space Telescope
Email
Telephone
Address
1200 E. California Blvd.
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
91125
Country
USA
Rights
http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/info/18-Image-Use-Policy
Publisher
Spitzer Science Center
Publisher ID
spitzer
Resource ID
sig06-029.tif
Metadata Date
2012-02-07
Metadata Version
1.1
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
538 light years