|What's happening around that star?
An unusual spiral structure has been discovered around the Milky Way star
R Sculptoris, a red giant star
about 1,500 light years away toward the constellation of the Sculptor
The star was observed with the new
Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
(ALMA), the most powerful telescopic array observing near
that part of the spectrum situated well beyond red light and between microwaves and radio waves.
Data from ALMA observations was used to
create a 3D
of the gas and dust immediately surrounding the star.
A digital slice through this data showed the unexpected
Although unusual, a similar spiral pattern was discovered in visible light recently around
Upon analyzing the data, a
hypothesis was drawn
that the red giant star in R Sculptoris might be puffing gas toward an unseen
binary companion star.
The dynamics of
might be particularly insightful because it may be giving clues as to how
evolve toward the end of their lives -- and so release some constituent
elements back to the
so that new stars may form.