3D reproduces a stellar storm

More than ten thousand Internet users rushed to download the files for 3D printing a violent cosmic phenomenon: the explosive interaction between two giant, strange stars.

A stellar explosion of 1840 created the wonderful Human Nephrology Nebula. The NASA video explains what happens to the stars behind it. (Photo: NASA)

The ζευγάρι violent couple

The three-dimensional model refers to the Trip of the Tropic, a pair of stars that move in orbit around each other at a distance of 7.300 light years from Earth.

Every 5,5 year, the two stars approach a short distance, about the distance of the Sun from Mars. And whenever this happens, the astral couple breaks out with violent flashes.

"It's an eccentric astral monster" said at the American Astronomy Society conference in Seattle, Washington Michael Corcoran of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

The two stars, one of which has a mass of 90 times greater than the Sun and the second 30 times larger, emit a constant stream of particles called a stellar wind (as does our own star with the so-called solar wind).


When the two asymmetric giants approach each other as they move in their eccentric trajectories, the wind of the larger star, moving at 420 kilometers per second, collides with the wind of the second star, which blows in the opposite direction with 3 kilometers per second.

In the area where they collide, the two particle streams are heated to temperatures of tens of millions of degrees Celsius. They then emit X-rays recorded by NASA's Swift Space Telescope at the latest pairing approach.

This allowed the researchers to improve the computational simulations of the Hit's Tropic and to create three-dimensional models of the troubled area where the opposing astral winds collide. The files for printing are available for download.
3d printed

The three-dimensional models printed by the researchers (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

The fingers of gas

The models revealed protrusions like gas fingers, which researchers did not expect to see. "We did not know they existed" he said Thomas Mantura, also a researcher at NASA's Goddard Center.

"We believe that they are structures that result from natural instabilities of the wind from the first star as it collides with a gas wall from the second star", he said.

The Trip of the Torture is still an exciting target for astronomers. But it gave 1840 a much bigger show when it exploded mysteriously and created the impressive Homunculus.

Today, the astral couple is considered a good candidate for a supernova explosion over the next hundreds of thousands of years, researchers say.

Although its distance from Earth is 7.300 light years, the supernovae star would look even during the day, with brilliance comparable to the moonlight.


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