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Nebula set to blow

Scott Anderson

April 13, 2007 12:00am

Article from: Herald-Sun

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WHO would have thought a ball of dust and gas could be so beautiful?

The just-discovered nebula, dubbed "The Red Square", has amazed astronomers with its rare symmetrical appearance.

They are excited by the possibility of a supernova.

The University of Sydney team, led by Dr Peter Tuthill, and astronomers from Cornell University in New York are thrilled with the discovery.

"The thing that really takes your breath away is the astonishing degree of symmetry within the intricate linear forms," Dr Tuthill said.

"It's almost like a crystal. That degree of symmetry is very, very rare."

The Red Square was discovered while the team was looking at a star 5000 light years away, in the Serpens constellation.

A nebula is a region of gas and dust in the galaxy, usually accompanied by a neighbouring star. The nebula reflects the light from the nearby star, causing the vivid glow.

One particularly unusual feature of The Red Square nebula is a series of faint radial spokes, like teeth of a comb, pointing away from the centre.

The most important implication for astronomy is the possibility that the explosion of a star, called a supernova, will occur.

Exciting reflection: "The Red Square" could be a clue to a supernova – the explosion of a star. Picture: Peter Tuthill

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