Science

NASA Baffled By Planet-Sized Plasma Balls Flying Past A Dying Star

By Jonna Marcaida Calagui , Oct 08, 2016 01:50 PM EDT

NASA was baffled when its Hubble Space Telescope detected plasma balls shooting past a dying star. Not only are the plasma balls super hot, they are flying in space at dangerous speeds and is twice the size of planet. The real mystery is not where the giant plasma balls came from, but how it was able to fly past an already dying star.

An odd occurrence

The oddity happened 1,200 light years away from Earth. What makes NASA and its astronomers really baffled is that red giant dying stars are not likely to have enough material to produce a quick succession of cannon fire of a stellar nature. The balls flies at an almost warp speeds of 238,900 miles, which is like travelling from the Earth to the moon in just a matter of half an hour. The plasma balls also has a blistering temperature of 17,000 degrees Fahrenheit (9,400 degrees Celsius). The red giant star where the gas balls were spotted was the V Hydrae, a dying star already observed by NASA since 2002.

A plausible explation

Lead author of the plasma balls study, Raghvendra Sahai from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that they have previous data regarding the gas balls flying at high speeds. But, instead of the V Hydrae itself, NASA's scientists believe that the blue plasma balls came from a companion star. This is because jets of flying masses of gas are made by accretion disks and red giants do not have that - unless a companion star with a presumably lower mass are present and is slowly evolving.

Sahai also added that they want to identify the process of how the nebulous balls came to be. His team used the Space Telescope Imaging Spectograph (STIS) of Hubble to observe V Hydrae and its surrounding region for more than 11 years. From their observation, the massive blobs are released every 8.5 years but not in the exact same location and direction.

TAG NASA, Star, Space
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