Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

14 June 2010

Binary Stars . . .

It's a day when suddenly I feel I can give myself permission
to loiter,
to let my mind go where it will,
and here is where it went:

This particular picture, taken by the Hubble Space Camera,
took my breath away,
and when I read what it was, 
I had to include it here:

Explanation: How was the unusual Red Rectangle nebula created? At the nebula's center is an aging binary star system that surely powers the nebula but does not, as yet, explain its colors. The unusual shape of the Red Rectangle is likely due to a thick dust torus which pinches the otherwise spherical outflow into tip-touching cone shapes. Because we view the torus edge-on, the boundary edges of the cone shapes seem to form an X. The distinct rungs suggest the outflow occurs in fits and starts. The unusual colors of the nebula are less well understood, however, and current speculation holds that they are partly provided by hydrocarbon molecules that may actually be building blocks for organic life. The Red Rectangle nebula lies about 2,300 light years away towards the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros). The nebula is shown above in unprecedented detail as captured recently by the Hubble Space Telescope. In a few million years, as one of the central stars becomes further depleted of nuclear fuel, the Red Rectangle nebula will likely bloom into a planetary nebula.

I've taken this language directly from the NASA site.
There is something about it that makes me think
of the mirror images I've contemplated here in the past--

If you follow NASA's link on the idea of a binary star system:
stars tend to move in couples, with a greater and a lesser;
we are unique in that the sun is a lone star; 

or is the sun truly alone?  NASA goes on to explain:

" In a binary system, the higher mass star will evolve faster and will eventually become a compact object - either a white dwarf star, a neutron star, or black hole." 
This makes me wonder if perhaps the sun's "higher mass companion"
has perhaps already become its Other Self.

You know what?
I'm no astronomer,
can't even spell it,
but the image and the explanation
captured my attention,
especially the part about this
extraordinary display being both
an aging system, but also one that could
"bloom into a planetary nebulae"
that could possibly
hold life.

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