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Hubble Heritage Archive: Gomez’s Hamburger, IRAS 18059-3211

29 Jul 2019, 13:30 UTC
Hubble Heritage Archive: Gomez’s Hamburger, IRAS 18059-3211
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The text and images in this article were originally published on August 1, 2002, and reflect information about Gomez’s Hamburger available at that time.

HUBBLE ASTRONOMERS FEAST ON AN INTERSTELLAR HAMBURGER

Hold the pickles; hold the lettuce. Space is serving up giant hamburgers. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has snapped a photograph of a strange object that bears an uncanny resemblance to a hamburger. The object, nicknamed Gomez’s Hamburger, is a sun-like star nearing the end of its life. It already has expelled large amounts of gas and dust and is on its way to becoming a colorful, glowing planetary nebula.

The ingredients for the giant celestial hamburger are dust and light. The hamburger buns are light reflecting off dust and the patty is the dark band of dust in the middle. The Hubble Heritage image, taken Feb. 22, 2002, with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, shows the structure of Gomez’s Hamburger with high resolution, particularly the striking dark band of dust that cuts across the middle. The dark band is actually the shadow of a thick disk around the central star, which is seen edge-on from Earth. The star itself, with a surface temperature of approximately 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit ...

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