What is the Coldest Place In The Universe?
Coldest Place In The Universe. Located 5,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus , the Boomerang Nebula is the coldest place in the universe.
It is a young planetary nebula with a dying red giant star at its center. The Boomerang Nebula is a reflecting cloud of dust and ionized gases. As the star nears the end of its life (opens in a new tab), it has been losing its outer layers as it should. However, it is losing its mass about 100 times faster than other similar dying stars.
Additionally, it’s doing so at a rate 100 billion times faster than Earth’s sun. Over the past 1,500 years, NASA (opens in new tab) estimates that the central star has lost nearly one-and-a-half times as much mass as our sun. As a result of the gaseous release, a lot of heat energy is being ejected from the atmosphere at 101 miles per second (164 km/s).
How cold is it?
The Boomerang Nebula is one of the most distant objects ever observed in our Universe. This supergiant cloud of gas and dust lies about 8 million light-years away from Earth. Its distance makes it difficult to study because we cannot see it directly. Instead, astronomers use telescopes to look at its light, which reveals information about the object.
In 2013, researchers used data gathered by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to measure the temperature of the Boomerang Nebula. They found that its core is almost four times colder than the surface of Saturn.
How was it discovered?
In 1980, when astronomers Keith Taylors and Mike Scarrott (opens in new tab in a new window) began to study the nebular using the Anglo-Australian telescope at the Siding Springs observatory, they didn’t know at this point that it would be one of the coldest places in the universe. However, its shape ensured that it had a natural name: “The Boomerang Nebula.”
At least, it seemed like this was true until it was captured by Hubble Space Telescope in 1998, showing a much closer resemblance to a bow tie or hour glass.
But before astronomer Raghvendrasahai knew this extra detail about his discovery, he was already hard working on another prediction, writing a paper in the Astrophysical journal in 1990. He predicted that wind from the star would expand rapidly as it flowed outwards, causing the temperature to plummet dramatically, making it something akin to a cosmic fridge.
As such, in 1995, he and his colleagues used the Swedish-European sub-mm telescope in Chile to seek to test the theory on Boomerang, leading to the temperature being measured.
What makes it so cold?
– Scientists are trying to understand how interstellar space dust gets so cold.
– The discovery came from observations made with ALMA, a telescope located in the Chilean Andes mountains.
– A team of researchers led by Dr. Michael M. Dunham of JPL used data gathered by ALMA to discover that the interstellar gas around the star known as HD 161796A is extremely cold.
– This object lies about 5,400 light-years away, in the constellation Vela.
– In the paper published in the journal Science Advances, the team describes how the star is surrounded by a cloud of material, some of which is moving very quickly.
– They believe that the star is losing mass, and that the ejected matter is travelling at high speed.
– As well as finding the coldest interstellar medium discovered so far, the team also found evidence that the star is shedding its atmosphere.
Shroud of a Dying Star
The Boomerang Nebula is one of many types of nebulae known as protoplanetary nebula, which are often found around stars that have just shed their outer envelopes. This particular nebula is located about 3,500 light-years away toward the constellation Gemini. Its unusual shape makes it look somewhat like a boomerang, hence its nickname.
In addition to looking like a planet, the nebula is actually shaped like a flattened disk. The central region contains hot gas that glows brightly in infrared wavelengths. However, the rest of the nebula appears dark. This suggests that most of the material in the cloud is still very cool — a few hundred degrees Kelvin.
This is consistent with what we know about how stars evolve. Stars begin their lives as massive balls of plasma, and over millions of years they slowly contract under gravity. Eventually, the fusion reactions inside the star run out of fuel, causing the star to swell outward again. When this happens, the star sheds its outer envelope and becomes a white dwarf.
But even though the star is no longer burning, the contraction continues inward. Eventually, the star becomes so dense that electrons become trapped within the nuclei of atoms, forming neutrons. This process causes the star to go supernova, blasting off vast amounts of stellar debris.
As the star expands once more, the ejected matter streams off into space, eventually becoming part of a larger structure known as a circumstellar nebula. But some of the expelled matter forms a shell around the star. This shell gradually gets denser and cooler, until it finally turns into a planetary nebula.
The Boomerang Nebulae is usually seen along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. We see it here because it lies behind the bulge of our galaxy, where there is little obscuring dust.