In the past few months the most beautiful detailed images of the cosmos have been published from the new telescopes in Chile – the ALMA array (see above). The images are not only beautiful, they’re also causing astronomers to re-evaluate their ideas of the cosmos.
The image above is of Supernova 1987A (our closest supernova). The data produced by ALMA is surprising astronomers because the ‘exploding’ star is not behaving as expected – quoting from Science Recorder:
‘Astronomers forecasted that, as the gas cooled following the explosion, huge amounts of dust would form as atoms of oxygen, carbon, and silicon bonded together in the cold middle regions of the exploded body. Yet, earlier observations of SN 1987A made with infrared telescopes during the first 500 days following the explosion detected only a minute amount of hot dust.
“SN 1987A is a special place since it hasn’t mixed with the surrounding environment, so what we see there was made there,” said Indebetouw. ”The new ALMA results, which are the first of their kind, reveal a supernova remnant chock full of material that simply did not exist a few decades ago.” ‘
Perhaps the lack of heat in a supernova is because the explosion of a star is not an “uncontrolled explosion of a human device“, but rather a “burst of life” as described in Step 1: Solar Systems are Born From Supernova
As our technology improves, our observations of the cosmos improve as well. We are seeing structure and order where none were unexpected. For example, the star R Sculptoris (see image above) is showing a spiralling internal structure that no one had seen before – nor expected to see. Quoting from a wonderful article about star formation on the ALMA website titled:”ALMA Discovers Large “Hot” Cocoon around a Small Baby Star“:
“A large hot molecular cloud around a very young star was discovered by ALMA. This hot cloud is about ten times larger than those found around typical solar-mass baby stars, which indicates that the star formation process has more diversity than ever thought.”
See more fabulous images from the ALMA website here.