20 years of surveillance for R Aquarius

20 years of surveillance for R Aquarius

The Aquarian R Nebula captured by the NOT optical telescope at the ORM Observatory (Palm). Colors represent different stages of oxygen ionization.

An international team of researchers, together with scientists from the Canary Institute of Astrophysics, provided a detailed study of the nebula evolution around the symbiotic star R Aquarius.

The nebula lives at a distance of 600 light years from us. The symbiotic star is represented by a red giant and a white dwarf who have been in contact for centuries, forming an amazing nebula from material ejected by the system.

The R Aquarius system R lives on the territory of the same name constellation and is an important example of the effect of gravitational interaction between neighboring stars. At later stages of evolution, when solar-type stars expand to giants, reducing surface gravity and allowing material to escape, the gravitational pull of a neighbor star may become the dominant cause of their evolution.

R Aquarius shows that matter ejected by a single star can take the form of a complex symmetric nebula. In addition, forms a powerful jet. These are common spatial phenomena found around binary stars and black holes. R Aquarius is the closest known stellar jet, allowing you to study these complex physical processes in unprecedented detail. Thanks to the proximity, it was possible to follow the evolution of the nebula and its jet in real time, taking pictures for many years. New data are based on observations lasting for 20 years.

Jet streams are extremely complex behavior. The survey showed that they consist of several nodes of material that move in random directions, merging and falling apart. Everything indicates that at the observed scales other external factors dominate the apparent evolution of the jet and its curvature, including changes in the level of illumination from central stars.

In the coming decades, scientists will continue to follow the evolution of R Aquarius, using telescopes and instruments of the next generation.

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