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Space & Astronomy

Nebula is 'coldest place in the universe'

By T.K. Randall
October 29, 2013 · Comment icon 13 comments



The Boomerang nebula. Image Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF/NASA/STScI/JPL-Caltech
The Boomerang nebula is 5,000 light years away and has a temperature of -458 degrees Fahrenheit.
The temperature of the nebula is in fact so low and it is colder then the depths of interstellar space and is believed to be the coldest object observed anywhere in the known universe. Images of the nebula show it to exhibit a strange, ghost-like appearance.
Known as a planetary nebula, the object represents the end of the life cycle of a star not dissimilar to our own sun. Astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile to learn more about the nebula and to determine its true shape.

"This ultra-cold object is extremely intriguing and we're learning much more about its true nature with ALMA," said JPL scientist Raghvendra Sahai. "What seemed like a double lobe, or boomerang shape, from Earth-based optical telescopes, is actually a much broader structure that is expanding rapidly into space."

Source: JPL | Comments (13)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Rhino666 9 years ago
What surprises me is that his object is actually quite close, yet energetic. Can it really be just 1 Kelvin degrees? I would have surmised that any energy (sufficient to cause expansion of the planetary nebula) to be well in excess of this value. Perhaps, Waspie, you could enlighten us as to how an energetic object at this presumed temperature, has sufficient energy to drive expansion? Why is such a close, expanding object, so cold? Why is the furthest object at 35 Billion Light Years distance (I get the Expanding Universe concept - but do not accept that we have a Universe expanding at multip... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 9 years ago
Perhaps, Waspie, you could enlighten us as to how an energetic object at this presumed temperature, has sufficient energy to drive expansion? I think you'll need a physicist for this, not an ex-chemist.
Comment icon #6 Posted by keithisco 9 years ago
I think you'll need a physicist for this, not an ex-chemist. LOL Waspie, but I know what you mean. As an aeronautical engineer with a passing amateur interest in pure physics some things fall well beneath my radar of understanding
Comment icon #7 Posted by MysticStrummer 9 years ago
Coldest place in the (observable) universe
Comment icon #8 Posted by Frank Merton 9 years ago
We measure its temperature from details of its spectrum. I would assume energy has been taken out of it by the expansion. That tends to cool things a bit as energy is consumed pushing outward.
Comment icon #9 Posted by woopypooky 9 years ago
how can stars be cold? they emit lights.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Frank Merton 9 years ago
Sorry this is not stars but a nebula, which is typically very very rarefied gas or dust.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Leonardo 9 years ago
We measure its temperature from details of its spectrum. I would assume energy has been taken out of it by the expansion. That tends to cool things a bit as energy is consumed pushing outward. The problem with that is CMB. CMB is everywhere and is hotter than the observed temperature of the nebula. Things only cool when they expand, if the space they are expanding into is less energetic (i.e. cooler). In this case that is not true. In theory, nothing should be naturally cooler than the temperature of empty space which, with CMB pervading it, is ~2.7 Kelvin.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Twin 9 years ago
It seems improbable that the most extreme "anything" would be that close to our little corner of the universe. BTW, I hate when then and than are confused (see the first sentence). I hate it almost as much as when people use BTW, BTW.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Belial 9 years ago
That be god that


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