New research suggests that the Ant Nebula is firing strange alien laser signals from its center. Researchers said that this type of infrared space laser emissions is quite rare.
The phenomenon is believed to be triggered by a double star system inhabiting the core of the nebula. Such laser signals usually occur when a star is dying. The Ant Nebula signal was caught by Europe’s Herschel space observatory.
Scientists explained that when sun-like stars exhaust their fuel they morph into denser space bodies called white dwarfs. During the transformation, they shed their outer layers of dust and gas, and a nebula is born. The Sun is expected to morph into a planetary nebula one day as well.
The Ant Nebula hosts a dying star at its center, which is behind the nebula’s colorful appearance. The planetary nebula, also known as Menzel 3, was first spotted in the 1920s by Donald Menzel. At the time the astronomer suggested that “’light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation” (LASER) could happen in space.
Menzel made the prediction before lasers were artificially created in laboratories.
These Alien Laser Signals Are Very Rare
Isabel Aleman is the lead author of a study analyzing the strange laser signals coming from the Ant Nebula. Her team found hydrogen recombination laser emissions coming from the planetary nebula. This type of emission is very rare.
Aleman thinks that the discovery of such laser signal in one of Menzel’s discovered nebulae is a “happy coincidence.” Hydrogen recombination laser emissions need special physical conditions like a dense cloud of gas close to the dying star.
Scientists found that the density of the cloud of gas at the core of the nebula is ten thousand times greater than the gas concentrations in other nebulas or in the Ant Nebula’s outer regions.
Image Source: NASA’s JPL