01 January 2006

So... did a jellyfish swallow a ball of steel wool?

Tycho's star

This is probably what Eta Carinae looks like end-on. It’s the supernova remnant from Tycho’s Star, seen going bang in 1572 by the gent it’s named after, Tycho Brahe.

And, of course, it’s not obeying the laws of physics — our’s, not the Universe’s.

The blue filmy-looking bits are a (relatively) cold shockfront that should be about two light-years in front of the wooly-looking bits, the debris. The fact that the debris has chosen to bunch up like it has instead of spreading out randomly, almost smoothly, is also cause for conventional concern.

If you view this as an end-on picture of an Eta-Carinae-like situation, rather than as a supernova per se, then the “dumbbell” formation (with a ring around its “waist”) is relatively common, and represents an unusually energetic plasma pinch.

Another interesting image to consider is this starspot:

HD12545 and its 'spot'

Note the copy of our Sun imprinted top left for scale. Quite a sunspot, no? And utterly impossible to conventional stellar physics.

If you view a star as a honking great anode, sunspots are simply regions where “anode tufting” has collapsed for lack of curent flow. In an eyeblink, sunspots suddenly make sense. This star simply isn’t getting hit with enough current to drive the formation of “anode tufts” across its entire surface.

Now I’m just wondering whether telling you about the QASARs so soon is a good idea. (-:

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