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Astr111 Photography Projects, Fall 2004

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Blue Snowball, Dave de Ruiter

Blue Snowball

To form a planetary nebula out layers of the star are broken off by
instabilities created by the hot core of the star. These layers that
are broken off turn from gas to dust and after a time we are able to
see these shells because they are ionized by the ultraviolet radiation
from the core of the original star. We see them as the electrons are
rejoined with the ions which form excited atoms and that gives us the
light we see. Composition and age of the original star can be
determined by looking at the rings of gas emitted by the star,
different colors produce different gases and by looking at the number
of rings surrounding the star one can try to determine the rate at
which these rings are released.

The Blue Snowball was discovered by William Herschel in 1784 and is
about 4,000 light years away form earth. It can be found in the
Andromeda constellation and is about 2 light years wide. Upon looking
at my picture of the blue snowball you can see one large ring around
the original star. The cloud of dust around the star is purplish/blue
and after applying basic astronomical techniques one can see that the
ring around the star is very hot, meaning that the blue snowball is a
hot star.