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News Release Archive:

News Release 712 of 964

September 18, 1997 12:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-1997-29

Blobs in Space: The Legacy of a Nova

September 18, 1997: Nova eruptions by dying stars were thought to be simple, predictable acts of violence. Astronomers could point a telescope at the most recently exploded novae and see an expanding bubble of gaseous debris around each star.

Scientists using the Hubble telescope, however, were surprised to find that some nova outbursts may not produce smooth shells of gas, but thousands of gaseous blobs, each the size of our solar system. In this Hubble picture of the nova T Pyxidis, the shells of gas ejected by the star are actually more than 2,000 gaseous blobs packed into an area that is 1 light-year across.

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Credit: Credits: Mike Shara, Bob Williams, and David Zurek (Space Telescope Science Institute); Roberto Gilmozzi (European Southern Observatory); Dina Prialnik (Tel Aviv University); and NASA