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New Clues to Boomerang Nebula Mystery

An ancient, red giant star in the throes of a frigid death has produced the coldest known object in the cosmos: the Boomerang Nebula. But how was this star able to create an environment so much colder than the natural background temperature of deep space?
The answer, according to astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), may be that a small companion star has plunged into the heart of the red giant, ejecting most of the matter of the larger star as an ultra-cold outflow of gas and dust. Raghvendra Sahai, an astronomer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, led a study on the mysterious nebula that appears in The Astrophysical Journal.

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The coldest place in the universe marks a double stellar grave

The coldest place in the universe marks the grave of two stars. So says a team that trained the ALMA telescope on the spot, known as the Boomerang Nebula.
Point a telescope almost anywhere in the cosmos and you'll see that it is at 2.7 kelvin - cold enough to freeze hydrogen on Earth. But one spot is even colder - the Boomerang Nebula, 5000 light years away in the constellation Centaurus. Here the temperature is 0.1 kelvin, or just above absolute zero. A mystery for years, astronomers can now see that this cosmic winter was caused by a stellar duo's violent death.

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ALMA Reveals Ghostly Shape of 'Coldest Place in the Universe'

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope have taken a new look at this intriguing object to learn more about its frigid properties and to determine its true shape, which has an eerily ghost-like appearance.
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The Boomerang Nebula is one of the Universe's peculiar places. In 1995, using the 15-metre Swedish ESO Submillimetre Telescope in Chile, astronomers revealed that it is the coldest place in the Universe found so far. With a temperature of -272C, it is only 1 degree warmer than absolute zero (the lowest limit for all temperatures). Even the -270C background glow from the Big Bang is warmer than this nebula. It is the only object found so far that has a temperature lower than the background radiation.
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The coldest place in the universe.
The Boomerang Nebula (also called the Bow Tie Nebula) is a protoplanetary nebula located 5,000 light-years away from Earth in the Centaurus constellation. The nebula is measured at 1 kelvin, the coldest place known outside a laboratory.

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The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged the Boomerang Nebula with the Advanced Camera for Surveys.
This reflecting cloud of dust and gas has two nearly symmetric lobes (or cones) of matter that are being ejected from a central star. Over the last 1,500 years, nearly one and a half times the mass of our Sun has been lost by the central star of the Boomerang Nebula in an ejection process known as a bipolar outflow.
The nebula's name is derived from its symmetric structure as seen from ground-based telescopes. Hubble's sharp view is able to resolve patterns and ripples in the nebula very close to the central star that are not visible from the ground.


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The Boomerang Nebula is about 5,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the Southern constellation Centaurus. Measurements show the nebula has a temperature of only one degree Kelvin above absolute zero (This makes it one of the coldest places in the galaxy).

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