Obliterated asteroid forms glowing star ring in new photo

A white dwarf star, recently photographed by researchers at the University of Warwick, has a bright red ring around it, one formed by the dead star's brutal destruction of space rocks that fly by too closely. According to the researchers, the debris ring around the white dwarf is composed of debris and dust particles; the new image, which is the first of its kind, shows an asteroid torn apart by the star's gravity and sent into orbit around the core.

The work was done by a team of researchers in the university's Astrophysics Group. Said Christopher Manser, who led the research team, "The diameter of the gap inside of the debris ring is 700,000 kilometers, approximately half the size of the Sun and the same space could fit both Saturn and its rings, which are only around 270,000 km across. At the same time, the white dwarf is seven times smaller than Saturn but weighs 2500 times more."

The red glow is caused by ultraviolet rays from the star itself. Though researchers have known for a couple of decades that such debris rings exist, this is the first time a team has managed to snap a picture of the ring type, giving researchers unprecedented data on the structure.

The image of the rings, shown above, is a composite of many images captured using Doppler tomography, something akin to the CT tech used in medical facilities. Using this process, the researchers captured aspects of the structure that wouldn't have otherwise been captured by a single photo. On a more somber note, the researchers says this image is a look at what our own solar system faces in the very distant future.

SOURCE: EurekAlert