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Sun Jun 30, 2013, 06:46 PM

The Flaming Skull Nebula.

By Phil Plait



Photo by T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage) and H. Schweiker (WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF)
Planetary nebulae are among my favorite objects in the sky. When a star a bit more massive than the Sun starts to die, it blows off a super solar wind of gas. As it ages more, this wind it blows speeds up, slamming into the stuff previously ejected, carving it into weird and amazing shapes. Eventually, the entire outer layers of the star blow off, exposing the starís hot, dense core. This floods the surrounding gas with ultraviolet light, causing it to glow.

Once it starts to emit light, the gas cloud becomes visible to us on Earth, and we can see the weird forms it can take. This structure can be quite fantastic, depending on how exactly the star was spinning as it blew off those winds, what angle we see this at, and the chemical composition of the gas.

In the case of the planetary nebula Sh2-68, though, we have an added factor: motion. The star at the heart of this nebula is moving rapidly through space, and it happens to be in a location in our galaxy where there is more gas and dust between stars than usual. So as it moves, the gas it blows off is itself blown back, like a dogís hair is blown back when it sticks its head out of a car window.

The image above, taken by my friend Travis Rector using the KPNO 4-meter telescope, shows this in detail. The blue gas is oxygen (which is slightly false-color here; this flavor of oxygen is actually more greenish), and the red is hydrogen. The star itself is the blue one right in the center of the blue gas.

I could go into great detail about the overall shape of the gas, the cavities in it, the actually quite interesting physics of how the gas interacts with the interstellar gas Ö but címon. Seriously.

The nebula looks like a giant screaming head with its hair aflame streaking across the galaxy!

more

http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/06/28/planetary_nebula_sh2_68_the_flaming_skull_nebula.html

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Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Flaming Skull Nebula. (Original post)
n2doc Jun 2013 OP
sakabatou Jun 2013 #1
burrowowl Jul 2013 #6
sakabatou Jul 2013 #7
OnyxCollie Jul 2013 #10
sakabatou Jul 2013 #11
OnyxCollie Jul 2013 #13
sakabatou Jul 2013 #14
OnyxCollie Jul 2013 #15
sakabatou Jul 2013 #16
OnyxCollie Jul 2013 #17
NaturalHigh Jul 2013 #2
eppur_se_muova Jul 2013 #3
Judi Lynn Jul 2013 #4
pam4water Jul 2013 #18
tclambert Jul 2013 #5
allan01 Jul 2013 #8
classof56 Jul 2013 #9
DhhD Jul 2013 #12
Gore1FL Jul 2013 #19
yends21012 Jul 2013 #20
KansDem Jul 2013 #21
ThoughtCriminal Jul 2013 #22
awoke_in_2003 Jul 2013 #23

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sun Jun 30, 2013, 06:55 PM

1. As Ghost Rider would say: "That's my nebula."

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Response to sakabatou (Reply #1)

Mon Jul 1, 2013, 10:04 PM

6. One of my favorite songs

Ghost Riders in the Sky

Beautiful pic!

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Response to burrowowl (Reply #6)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 12:22 AM

7. Here you go (Blues Brothers version)

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Response to sakabatou (Reply #1)

Wed Jul 3, 2013, 02:23 AM

10. Ghost Rider would most likely say,

 

"It is of no concern to the Ghost Rider."

Ghost Rider didn't have any great lines, but he was my favorite regardless.

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Response to OnyxCollie (Reply #10)

Wed Jul 3, 2013, 02:06 PM

11. It's a meme, but, eh...

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Response to sakabatou (Reply #11)

Wed Jul 3, 2013, 03:26 PM

13. What's the meme?

 

I don't get it.

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Response to OnyxCollie (Reply #13)

Wed Jul 3, 2013, 04:15 PM

14. I'll give you some picture examples

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Response to sakabatou (Reply #14)

Wed Jul 3, 2013, 04:19 PM

15. So the meme is

 

"That's my __?"

If I got it, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with it.

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Response to OnyxCollie (Reply #15)

Wed Jul 3, 2013, 04:32 PM

16. It's because either the animal looks like the person or does something like the character

For instance, if my cat wore glasses and was sitting at the piano, I'd make the meme, "That's my cat." I do wear glasses and play the piano.

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Response to sakabatou (Reply #16)

Wed Jul 3, 2013, 04:55 PM

17. Ah, I see.

 

Thanks for explaining it to me. This meme will now provide me seconds of entertainment.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Jul 1, 2013, 12:01 AM

2. Sort of looks like...

Stone Cold Steve Austin's "smoking skull" championship belt.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Jul 1, 2013, 12:22 AM

3. Now THAT'S a name ! nt

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Jul 1, 2013, 01:00 AM

4. Run.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #4)

Wed Jul 3, 2013, 07:17 PM

18. +1

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Jul 1, 2013, 05:35 PM

5. IT'S THE DEVIL!

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 08:47 AM

8. re:The Flaming Skull Nebula.


lovely nebula

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Response to allan01 (Reply #8)

Tue Jul 2, 2013, 12:35 PM

9. What a nice version of Ghost Riders.

Never knew Burl Ives sang it, but I do recall listening to Vaughn Monroe belt it out on my little radio a few decades ago. Man I'm gettin' old!

Thanks for posting. And the Flaming Skull is a lovely Nebula indeed.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jul 3, 2013, 02:44 PM

12. Is the blue mass star moving like a comet?

I would love to learn more. n2doc-Can you private message me with more about this star as it is not in nova or supernova.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jul 3, 2013, 07:29 PM

19. You post the coolest content on DU.

Thank you for doing so. I often just come to DU, look the LBN, see what's trending, cool, etc, and then go to the greatest page and search your handle.

Thanks, again!

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Jul 4, 2013, 07:53 AM

20. Maybe because I was thinking of seeing the movie, ...

...but before I read what it was actually called, I thought it looked like Superman's symbol of hope speeding through the cosmos.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Jul 4, 2013, 08:39 AM

21. Kind of looks like a Flaming PacMan...



...a very angry flaming PacMan.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Jul 4, 2013, 09:19 AM

22. What's it screaming?

SHEEEEE-EIGHT!

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Response to ThoughtCriminal (Reply #22)

Thu Jul 4, 2013, 10:27 PM

23. KAAAAAAAAAAAAHN!!!!

 

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