The Red Square Nebula

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How did a star (which is round) create a rectangular nebula? No one really knows. To wit:

The round star, known as MWC 922 and possibly part of a multiple star system, appears at the center of the Red Square Nebula. The featured image combines infrared exposures from the Hale Telescope on Mt. Palomar in California, and the Keck-2 Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. A leading progenitor hypothesis for the square nebula is that the central star or stars somehow expelled cones of gas during a late developmental stage. For MWC 922, these cones happen to incorporate nearly right angles and be visible from the sides. Supporting evidence for the cone hypothesis includes radial spokes in the image that might run along the cone walls. Researchers speculate that the cones viewed from another angle would appear similar to the gigantic rings of supernova 1987A, possibly indicating that a star in MWC 922 might one day itself explode in a similar supernova.

(Image: Peter Tuthill (Sydney U.) & James Lloyd (Cornell U.))


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3 thoughts on “The Red Square Nebula

  1. Lush

    Still loving these; a welcome breath of fresh air in the midst of all the stale, recycled Covid stuff that has been (re)circulating here for way too long.
    Thanks Chompsky.


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