Low-Cost Astronomy with the Planetary Nebula Spectrograph – Mike Merrifield
15th October 2012
Stars and Galaxies
We’re not just talking about UCAS though, oh no! We’re talking stars and galaxies as well. Well we were getting withdrawal symptoms…
So, what happens when a star dies? It depends on the size of the star, but our own Sun is likely to blow its outer layers off and form a planetary nebula. You say you don’t know what one is? You’ve probably seen a picture of one before, a famous one is the crab nebula shown below.
Mike doesn’t study such pretty nebulas though, the ones he looks at are much further away and appear as green blobs. This is because when a star reaches the end of its life it only really emits green light in its spectrum. Our own Sun actually peaks in the green, but it appears more yellow than anything due to the way our eyes work.
Scientists still aren’t really sure what causes this bizarre phenomenon, but this particular example was spotted 70 million light years from Earth.
Science in the News
Felix Baumgartner skydives from space. Watch the video here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19947159
Planet made from diamonds? Count me in! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2216196/Scientists-discover-massive-planet-diamonds-twice-size-Earth.html
Giant eye washes up – http://www.inquisitr.com/364009/giant-eyeball-mystery-solved-swordfish-eye-washes-up-on-florida-beach/
Are we in the Matrix? http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2011/07/-a-matrix-universe-are-we-living-in-a-vast-computer-simulation.html