Science and Technology Facilities Council
A giant space bubble being blown in nearby galaxy
Astrophysicists have discovered an enormous bubble currently being ‘blown’ by the regular eruptions from a star in a nearby galaxy – and studying this phenomenon could help scientists to better understand how the universe expands.
An international team of researchers, led by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), have been studying an enormous shell-like nebula – a cloud of gas and space dust – in our neighbouring Andromeda Galaxy. The shell, called a ‘nova remnant’, surrounds two stars – one of which is constantly erupting.
The explosions which are causing the shell to expand are happening on the surface of a white dwarf. Every year, the white dwarf undergoes a thermonuclear explosion much like a hydrogen bomb, shooting out energy and mass in all directions.
This acts like a snow plough, causing all the space dust to pile up to form the shell or bubble, or ‘super-remnant’.
At almost 400 lightyears across and still growing, this is far bigger than a typical nova remnant (usually around a lightyear in size), suggesting that this vast shell is in fact the remains of not just one eruption but possibly millions all from the same system.
Dr Matt Darnley, of LJMU’s Astrophysics Research Institute and who was supported by STFC, explains: “Studying this star system and its super-remnant could help us to understand how some white dwarfs grow to their critical upper mass and how they actually explode once they get there, which helps us to work out how the universe expands and grows.”
More information is available on the LJMU website.
Latest News from
Science and Technology Facilities Council
UK scientists help to reveal hundreds of thousands of galaxies20/02/2019 12:05:00
The first results from an international radio telescope survey were yesterday announced, revealing hundreds of thousands of previously undetected galaxies – and UK scientists are ‘right at the heart of the project’.
Discover the intriguing ice worlds of the outer Solar System18/02/2019 12:05:00
An expert in planetary science is coming to Swindon later this month to give a free public lecture to schoolchildren and the public on the ice worlds that exist in the outer part of the Solar System.
US-UK-Australia funding to improve global gravitational wave network15/02/2019 14:15:00
A global network of gravitational wave observatories will be upgraded to almost double its sensitivity, the lead science funding agencies of the United Kingdom and United States announced today.
Speed dating for archaeologists – thanks to CERN technology14/02/2019 15:15:15
Carbon dating is the ‘gold standard’ technique applied by archaeologists worldwide to date objects made from organic materials from over the past 50,000 years. However, this can be a very costly process and archaeologists can wait months for samples to be analysed, a timescale that can disrupt research programmes and cause frustration all round.
Building a billion pixel detector for the Large Hadron Collider14/02/2019 12:05:00
Scientists, engineers and technicians at Daresbury Laboratory are playing a key role in building ground-breaking new technologies that will enable a major upgrade of the ALICE experiment, one of the four main detectors at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
Central Africa's first ever research-class astronomical observatory moves a step closer08/02/2019 15:05:00
Kenya could soon host the only research-class observatory in equatorial Africa, thanks to a collaboration between the country and the UK.
UK university has something to twist and shout about after 40-year search08/02/2019 10:05:00
Major research carried out by a UK university could lead to advancements in chemical manufacturing, miniaturisation and pharmaceuticals.
UK-built Mars instrument dons a protective sunhat07/02/2019 10:38:00
An international Mars mission has successfully reached its latest milestone and now the on-board instrument that will measure ‘Marsquakes’, and which was built by a UK team including STFC RAL Space, has gained a protective shield.
UK will have simulation capabilities like never before with powerful quantum learning machine06/02/2019 13:43:00
UK researchers and industry will soon be able to process unprecedented amounts of data and harness powerful simulation capabilities, thanks to the arrival of a new Quantum Learning Machine at one of the UK’s leading high-performance computing research facilities.