Space is incredibly awesome, and we’re lucky to have the Hubble telescope up there looking around and spotting the myriad wonders of the universe. The latest discovery from NASA, though, is something a little new. The telescope fixed in on a strange ejection of plasma fireballs from V Hydrae, a dying red giant star some 1,200 light years away. We’ve seen this phenomenon before, but this is the first time its origin has been pinpointed.
You see, V Hydrae doesn’t have long to live (in astronomical terms, of course – it’ll be around for generations after we’re dead) and it’s ejecting the last of its mass. What’s interesting, though, is that these balls of super-hot ionized gas – twice as hot as the surface of the Sun – can’t be coming from the star. It’s not hot enough anymore. So what’s the deal?
Science Alert has some theories. The leading one is that V Hydrae has a companion star that’s not visible to the Hubble telescope responsible for the ejections. What’s happening is that other store is entering V Hydrae’s atmosphere and its gravity field is sucking up all of the dead matter from the star.
That dead matter is then superheated by the other star, forming an accretion disk. That disk then sheds some of its makeup in the form of balls of blue plasma that travel incredibly fast. Scientists believe that this process might be the key to understanding planetary nebulae, swirling rings of gas that we’ve never been able to explain.
What will the Hubble telescope pick up next? If it involves balls, fiery or otherwise, we’ll let you know.Get your balls in the game! Donate to the Sean Kimerling Foundation to win the battle against testicular cancer.