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

Jesse is a passionate scientist, educator, and science communicator. As an assistant professor at York University in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, he teaches three classes: History of Astronomy, Introduction to Astronomy, and Exploring the Solar System. He frequently collaborates with the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and lends his expert voice to the Ingenium Channel. Jesse is an astrophysicist, and his research explores how super massive black holes evolve through time. Whether in the classroom, through social media, or on TV, he encourages conversations about how science and society intersect, and why science is relevant in our daily lives.