Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array have discovered a totally unexpected spiral structure in the material around the old star R Sculptoris. This is the first time that such a structure has been found around a red giant star. It is also the first time that astronomers could get full three-dimensional information about such a spiral. This work is one of the first ALMA early science results to be published.
A team using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array ALMA, the most powerful millimetre/submillimetre telescope in the world, has discovered a surprising spiral structure in the gas around the red giant star R Sculptoris. This means that there is probably a previously unseen companion star orbiting the star. The astronomers were also surprised to find that far more material than expected had been ejected by the red giant.
“We’ve seen shells around this kind of star before, but this is the first time weve ever seen a spiral of material coming out from a star, together with a surrounding shell,” says the lead author on the paper presenting the results, Matthias Maercker ESO and Argelander Institute for Astronomy, University of Bonn, Germany. Via ALMA spots surprising spiral structure, reveals secrets of a dying star.