Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nibiru it is Not.

One of my readers has alerted me to an image traversing the internet that purports to be an image of the alleged doom planet Nibiru. Nibiru is a fantasy, but this object is real enough and quite interesting. If you have Google Sky (see screen shots above), crank it up, paste the coordinates 09:47:27, 13:16:27 into the location tab and Google sky will take you to an unprepossessing piece of sky near Regulus (image left). Now go to the Observatories check box and turn on the IRAS infra-red overlay and a bright, angry looking object appears (image right: you can also see it in the IR maps in World Wide Telescope).

This is what is claimed to be Nibiru in a YouTube video. But it is a far more interesting object. This is the carbon star CW Leonis (also known as IRC +10216, PK 221+45 1 and the Peanut Nebula). CW Leonis is the brightest object in the 10 μm infrared sky. The helium burning star is deeply embedded in a thick dusty envelope, so we see almost no visible radiation from it. This
remarkable animation shows the movement of hot gas in the envelope over a period of 3 years.

Left image: CW Leo shown in the IRAS 12 µm survey. The second bright star is HD 84748. Right image: Skymap screen shot showing CW Leo (PK 221+45 1) between 23 Leo and Phi Leo, as in the Google Sky maps (as always, click to embiggen).


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