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Red Square found in the heavens

13th April 2007, 7:45 WST

An unusually symmetrical, bright red star has been discovered by an Australian astronomer and his research team.

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Named Red Square, the bipolar nebula is the most symmetrical ever photographed. It was done using Adaptive Optics, a system that takes images without atmospheric distortion or blurring.

University of Sydney physics senior lecturer Peter Tuthill and his American colleague, James Lloyd of Cornell University, made the discovery during a four-year project in the US researching the birth of stars.

“We were trying to study stellar birth, looking for systems we thought were young and in the process of forming,” Dr Tuthill said.

“It (Red Square) shows many of the features associated with young stars but it turns out it’s a dying star, one potentially about to blow up.”

Dr Tuthill said a discovery like Red Square did not come around often in astronomy.

“The thing that really takes your breath away is the astonishing degree of symmetry within the intricate linear forms,” he said.

“This makes the Red Square nebula the most symmetrical object of comparable complexity ever imagined. It gives us a model for studying the creation of polar rings. It’s a pretty thing too.”


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