Thursday, April 26, 2007
The Red Square Nebula: in near-perfect symmetry
The splendor of cosmic diamonds...
"If symmetry is a sign of splendor, then the newly discovered Red Square nebula is one of the most beautiful objects in the universe."
What is particularly astonishing about the Red
Square, the researchers say, is the degree of symmetry seen in lines,
or “rungs,” that bisect its surface. The rungs appear as shadows, and
their makeup is uncertain.
“The high degree of regularity in this case may point
to the intriguing possibility that these bands are shadows cast by
periodic ripples or waves on the surface of an inner disk close to the
star at the heart of the system," Lloyd said.
The Red Square ranks among the most symmetrical
objects ever observed by scientists. “If you fold things across the
principle diagonal axis, you get an almost perfect reflection
symmetry,” said study leader Peter Tuthill from the University of
Sydney in Australia. “This makes the Red Square nebula the most
symmetrical object of comparable complexity ever imaged.”
The Red Square’s extreme symmetry suggests the star’s
surroundings are extremely still and not buffeted by external stellar
winds or other turbulence. SPACE.com