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Star blows 'bubble' in Hubble image

July 6, 2012 at 5:19 PM   |   Comments

GREENBELT, Md., July 6 (UPI) -- A new Hubble Space Telescope image released by NASA shows a star nearing the end of its life blowing a cosmic "bubble," astronomers said.

Camelopardalis, or U Cam for short, is a star becoming unstable as it runs low on fuel, NASA said in a release Friday.

Every few thousand years, that instability causes U Cam to cough out a nearly spherical shell of gas as a layer of helium around its core begins to fuse.

Located in the constellation of Camelopardalis (The Giraffe), near the North Celestial Pole, U Cam is an example of a carbon star, a rare type of star with an atmosphere that contains more carbon than oxygen.

U Can's cosmic bubble, a shell of gas both much larger and much fainter than its parent star, is visible in detail in the Hubble image.

This phenomenon is often quite irregular and unstable, NASA said, but the shell of gas expelled from U Cam is almost perfectly spherical.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Repairing the Hubble
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The star Camelopardalis. Credit: NASANASA's Space Shuttle "Atlantis" launches seconds after 2:01 PM from Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on May 11, 2009. Atlantis is carrying a seven person crew on the final shuttle flight to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The crew plans five spacewalks over the eleven day mission to repair and improve the telescope which will increase its operational lifespan through at least 2014. The 44 foot observatory was launched to space on STS 31 in April 1990 and has completed over one hundred thousand orbits. (UPI Photo/Joe Marino - Bill Cantrell)
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