The image was taken by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and it shows the old star R Sculptoris surrounded by a kind of spiral structure which has never been spotted before.
“We’ve seen shells around this kind of star before, but this is the first time we’ve ever seen a spiral of material coming out from a star, together with a surrounding shell,” said Matthias Maercker of the University of Bonn, lead author on the paper presenting the results.
Source: ALMA Observatory
Photo credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)
Maercker, M., Mohamed, S., Vlemmings, W.H.T., Ramstedt, S., Groenewegen, M.A.T., Humphreys, E., Kerschbaum, F., Lindqvist, M., Olofsson, H., Paladini, C., Wittkowski, M., de Gregorio-Monsalvo, I., & Nyman, L.-A. (2012). Unexpectedly large mass loss during the thermal pulse cycle of the red giant star R Sculptoris Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature11511