Star blows 'bubble' in Hubble image

July 6, 2012 at 5:19 PM
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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.

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