ALMA—the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array telescope in Chile—has obtained this incredible and eerie new view of the coldest known place in the Universe, the Boomerang Nebula. Check out the beautiful high definition image to see all the fine details.


If you look at the blue behind the orange glow you can see a walking alien waving his arms.

Located in the constellation Centaurus, the protoplanetary Boomerang Nebula is 5,000 light-years away from Earth. Its temperature is only 1 Kelvin. That's −457.87 ºF −272.15 ºC, which means this is the coldest place in the known Universe.

Hubble was the first telescope to see this nebula with enough detail, but this is the very first photograph that actually reveals its true shape, according to Raghvendra Sahai—principal scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California:

This ultra-cold object is extremely intriguing and we're learning much more about its true nature with ALMA. What seemed like a double lobe, or 'boomerang' shape, from Earth-based optical telescopes, is actually a much broader structure that is expanding rapidly into space.


The nebula is in the stage before it starts to make planets. Using this image and the data captured by ALMA, researchers scientists have discovered a "dense lane of millimeter-sized dust grains surrounding the star, which explains why this outer cloud has an hourglass shape in visible light." Originally, after being imaged by Hubble, this nebula was nicknamed the bowtie nebula because of this shape.

Scientists at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory explain why this is the coldest detected place in the Universe: "The outflow of gas from this particular star is expanding rapidly and cooling itself in the process. This is similar in principle to the way refrigerators use expanding gas to produce cold temperatures."


Share This Story

Get our newsletter