#122 Paula Prats
#122 of 200 images that have made the IYL Showcase shortlist. We’ll be posting 2 images/day in the run up to the London Showcase (October 23rd) when the final 20 images will be announced and presented as chosen by the showcase jury..
This image shows the star R Sculptoris through data collected by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The data, which appeared in the academic paper “Unexpectedly large mass loss during the thermal pulse cycle of the red giant R Sculptoris” (Nature, 2012), was the first to discover spiral structure around a red giant star.
At a distance of about 1500 light years, the interesting spiral structure might be caused by an as yet unknown companion star orbiting R Sculptoris and disturbing the intervening material.
It is not unusual for red giants to exhibit shell-like structures. Red giants undergo periodic (every 10,000 to 50,000 years), but short lived (maybe 200 years or so) explosive helium burning around the stellar core. A thermal pulse leads to material being blown off the surface of the star, which in turn creates a gas-dust shell.
Image Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)
Link to Academic Article (choose arXiv for free access/non-subscribers)