Researchers in the UK have shed light on Rosette Nebula’s central cavity and on its central stars through new models.
A team of astronomers at the University of Leeds have put forward an explanation for the discrepancy between the size and age of the Rosetta Nebula’s central cavity and that of its central stars. Located roughly 5,000 light-years from Earth, the Rosette Nebula is a rose-shaped nebula.
Researchers in the UK have developed computer simulations using which they have found that the formation of the Nebula is likely to be in a thin sheet-like molecular cloud rather than in a spherical or thick disc-like shape, as some photographs may suggest. A thin disc-like structure of the cloud focusing the stellar winds away from the cloud’s centre would account for the comparatively small size of the central cavity.
Scientists explain that the massive stars that make up the Rosette Nebula’s central cluster are a few millions of years old and halfway through their lifecycle. For the length of time their stellar winds would have been flowing, you would expect a central cavity up to ten times bigger.
Through computer simulations scientists garnered new understanding of the roles individual stars play in the Rosette Nebula. The simulations were run using the Advanced Research Computing centre at Leeds. The nine simulations required roughly half a million CPU hours — the equivalent to 57 years on a standard desktop computer.
Martin Callaghan, a member of the Advanced Research Computing team, said: “The fact that the Rosette Nebula simulations would have taken more than five decades to complete on a standard desktop computer is one of the key reasons we provide powerful supercomputing research tools. These tools enabled the simulations of the Rosette Nebula to be done in a matter of a few weeks.”