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No. 49: Jan-Feb 1987

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Enormous Stellar Shell Raises Theoretical Questions

"Stars tend to lose material to the space that surrounds them. Some of this loss is gradual and continuous -- the so-called stellar winds. Some is abrupt -- the sudden blowing off of a surface layer that then forms a shell around the star. A group of astronomers now reports in the Nov. 15 Astrophysical Journal the discovery of an especially large, cool shell around the star R Coronae Borealis. How this shell was formed and what makes it glow are both mysteries for which current theory does not seem to have answers."

The newly discovered shell is 26 light-years across, roughly 20 times larger than previously discovered shells. If our sun were in the center, the shell would encompass the nearest 50 stars! The usual stellar shells glow as they absorb and reemit radiation from their parent stars, but the R Coronae Borealis shell, given its distance from its star, cannot be explained in this way.

(Thomsen, D.E.; "Enormous Stellar Shell Raises Theoretical Questions," Science News, 130:333, 1986.)

From Science Frontiers #49, JAN-FEB 1987. 1987-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987