True shape of the Boomerang

This Picture of Week shows the Boomerang Nebula, a protoplanetary nebula,  as seen by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The background purple structure, as seen in visible light with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows a classic double-lobe shape with a very narrow central region. ALMA’s ability to see the cold molecular gas reveals the nebula’s more elongated shape, in orange.

Since 2003 the nebula, located about 5000 light-years from Earth, has held the record for the coldest known object in the Universe. The nebula is thought to have formed from the envelope of a star in its later stages of life which engulfed a smaller, binary companion. It is possible that this is the cause of the ultra-cold outflows, which are illuminated by the light of the central, dying star.

ALMA looked at the nebula’s central dusty disc and the outflows further out, which span a distance of almost four light-years across the sky. These outflows are even colder than the cosmic microwave background, reaching temperatures below –270 °C. The outflows are also expanding at a speed of 590 000 kilometres per hour.

Link

Credit:

ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/R. Sahai

About the Image

Id:potw1724a
Type:Observation
Release date:12 June 2017, 06:00
Size:1762 x 1762 px

About the Object

Name:Boomerang Nebula
Type:Milky Way : Nebula : Type : Planetary
Distance:5000 light years
Constellation:Centaurus
Category:Nebulae

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Coordinates

Position (RA):12 44 46.10
Position (Dec):-54° 31' 12.87"
Field of view:0.37 x 0.37 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 0.1° left of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
V
606 nmHubble Space Telescope
ACS
Radio
12CO
880 μmAtacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
Band 7
Optical
V
606 nmHubble Space Telescope
ACS

 

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