Astronomers spy structures that ’no previous telescope could detect’ in new images of dying star

The Ring Nebula captured by JWST between July and August 2022.
The Ring Nebula captured by JWST between July and August 2022.
New images of a dying star at the centre of a well-known planetary nebula 2,600 light years from Earth have revealed structures that no previous telescope could detect, according to an international team of scientists, who released the Planetary nebulae such as the Ring form when stars with up to about eight times the mass of our Sun exhaust the hydrogen in their cores and eject their outer layers.

As the source of much of the carbon and nitrogen in the universe, the way in which these stars evolve and die is crucial to understanding the origin of these elements, without which life on Earth could not have developed.

Dr Wesson added: "Planetary nebulae were once thought of as very simple objects, roughly spherical and with a single star at their centre. Hubble showed that they were much more complicated than that, and with these latest "These telescope and infrared detection innovations mean many of the Ring’s details revealed in these latest JWST images were not previously visible to astronomers.

"Where before we saw only a ring, we now know it is filled with 20,000 globules. And, for the first time, we can also see beyond the ring which extends with faint spikes and arcs, shaping a petal-like structure resembling a flower."

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