Astronomers Discover White Dwarfs Orbiting Each Other at Center of Fleming 1 Nebula

Posted on November 12, 2012

Fleming 1 Nebula

Astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope have discovered a pair of white dwarf stars orbiting each other at the center of the unique Fleming 1 Nebula. The astronomers say the stars circle each other every 1.2 days. The astronomers say this is what is responsible for the symmetric appearance of material being flung out from both sides of the nebula. You can view a larger version of the above image here.

Henri Boffin (ESO, Chile), leader of the research team, said in a release, "The origin of the beautiful and intricate shapes of Fleming 1 and similar objects has been controversial for many decades. Astronomers have suggested a binary star before, but it was always thought that in this case the pair would be well separated, with an orbital period of tens of years or longer. Thanks to our models and observations, which let us examine this unusual system in great detail and peer right into the heart of the nebula, we found the pair to be several thousand times closer."

Take a look:

The results were published here in the journal Science.

Photo: ESO/H. Boffin

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