The Coldest Place in the Universe

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An image of the Boomerang Nebula.
What is causing the Boomerang nebula to be so cold (image credit: ALMA, NASA/ESA Hubble).

The Boomerang Nebula is the coldest location in the known universe: it measures at roughly 2 degrees colder than empty space! This nebula is the result of the death of a red giant star, and the extreme temperature is caused by the rapid expansion of the nebula. According to thermodynamics, if you expand a gas you, cool a gas (just try using one of those compressed air cans for cleaning electronics). However, according to astronomers, a single star's death could not account for a strong enough wind to create this expansion. Based on this hypothesis, and data from the ALMA observatory, astronomers now believe the expansion of the Boomerang Nebula is being driven by a companion star.

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The Coldest Place in the Universe
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Jesse Rogerson, PhD

As a passionate science communicator, Jesse Rogerson loves promoting science literacy to the public. He frequently represents the Canada Aviation and Space Museum on television and radio, social media, and at conferences. He co-developed a science communication workshop for Canadian science professionals, to instruct them in more effective methods of communicating their science. A trained and practicing astrophysicist, Jesse holds a PhD in observational astrophysics from York University, and recently published a peer-reviewed paper in The Astrophysical Journal. Jesse enjoys riding his motorcycle, board games, and ultimate frisbee.