Hubble Spots Superhot Fireballs Twice As Massive As Mars

By Jiran , Oct 07, 2016 03:41 AM EDT

The always reliable Hubble Telescope of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has observed another phenomenon. Hubble has spotted superhot and massive fireballs being spewed by a companion star.

The Mystery Of The Fireballs

A recent study has come close to solving the mystery of the fireballs. Raghvendra Sahai, the lead author and part of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, admitted that this has been the first time to witness such event. He added that this has made them see structures in planetary nebulae more clearly.

Apparently, the fireballs came from an unseen companion star. This has not been known before by scientists. They explained that it ate up materials from the host star V Hyrdae. This occurred when it entered V Hydrae's outer atmosphere.

The said materials then became a disk. It is where the fireballs are being released from. According to Astronomy Now, the fireballs would be able to travel from Earth to the Moon in only about half an hour. They added that the "cannon fire" event happens once every eight-and-a-half years for the past 400 years.

These fireballs are also twice as massive as Mars.

The Planetary Nebulae

According to, Sahai and his colleagues used the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) of the Hubble. It has been observing the V Hydrae for over an 11-year period.

They discovered that these fireballs are twice as hot as the sun's surface. The STIS also indicated that they are 37 billion miles away from the V Hydrae. Sahai, along with Mark Morris and Samantha Scibelli, were then able to develop a model of the companion star with an accretion disk.

The model will give more details about the planetary nebulae. Sahai said that red giants don't have accretion disks but many have companion stars. The said stars have lower masses caused by a slower evolution.

Sahai and his team plans to use the Hubble Telescope to observe the V Hydrae system and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).

The recent study was published in the Astrophysical Journal.

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