Cosmic Cotton Candy

By Harley White posted 04-15-2021 09:10


Cosmic Cotton Candy
What’s called cotton candy reminds us of fairs
where vendors were hawking their edible wares
or maybe a circus from blithe childhood days
eternal back then to be lost in a haze,
though fraught with their measure of tender age cares.
The nebula named ‘Cotton Candy’, to wit,
a protoplanetary nebula, it
has bipolar structure with dark lane between,
in place of the star at the center unseen,
which could correspond to a corset a bit.
Astronomers say that the object is small,
so tiny it’s tricky to spot it at all,
albeit the nebula’s quite clearly hewn
from star that has wrapped itself in a cocoon
with shadows intense where the rays of light fall.
The imagery scintillates with stellar shine
beyond in the blackness of cosmic design
to highlight ethereal fluffiness shed
from red giant puffs that have slowly o’erspread
midst masses of dust which the outlines define.
‘Twas Hubble that captured the cottony lobes
we view here on Earth with its reigning two globes,
one rising in morning to beam till the night
adorning the daytime with radiant light,
when moon is attired in her silvery robes.
The reason it’s dubbed Cotton Candy’s obscure.
It doesn’t look much like the floss to be sure,
at least not the type we recall on a stick
of paper or wood plus with colors to pick
in pink, green, or blue any child to allure.
Still one can imagine the redolent sweet
aloft in the heavens for angels to eat
yet dually fashioned in soft pastel hues
to youngsters and starry-eyed poets bemuse
with fantasied features of sugary treat.
The process of witnessing while it was spun
seemed magic somehow and was part of the fun,
to watch as it turned into delicate strands
a vision transporting us to fairylands,
along with a sugar rush grownups might shun.
Those filaments had an ephemeral mien
of stuff insubstantial as gossamer screen
inwrought into fabric atwist in a swirl
through centrifuge system that gave it a whirl
with tints like the nebula’s aquamarine.
A cosmic cloud’s protoplanetary stage
precedes planetary phase in astral age,
for stellar evolution considered brief
as with Cotton Candy’s unfolding motif
ere stars intermediate turn final page.
Meanwhile on this planet in Goldilocks zone
where rarest benevolence Nature has shown
to let sentient beings come into their own,
akin to the transience of all that is known
our life evanesces, by Time overthrown.
Yet is there more to it than how things appear,
a deeper dimension beyond the frontier,
embracing all being, the far and the near,
beyond the invisible, visible sphere,
where time may be timeless and clarity clear?
~ Harley White
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Image and info ~ Cotton Candy Nebula at Wikipedia

Image explanation The Cotton Candy Nebula is considered to fall into an unusual category of astronomical objects known as protoplanetary nebulae or post-AGB star. (These stars are thought to be caught in a brief evolutionary phase between the asymptotic giant branch (AGB) and planetary nebula (PN) phases of evolution.) A proto-planetary nebulae (PPN) is an astronomical object that is in a stellar evolution phase where the star begins to discard its outer layers and is about to proceed to becoming a true planetary nebula, which is another astronomical object made up mostly of gaseous materials that was originally discovered by the IRAS satellite. IRAS (Infrared Astronomical Satellite) was launched in January 1982 and overlooked about 97 percent of the sky. It is also known as IRAS 17150-3224. It is a good example of a DUPLEX-type protoplanetary nebula (DUst-Prominent Longitudinally-EXtended).
Image: HST (Hubble Space Telescope) image of the Cotton Candy Nebula. Credits: Sun Kwok and Kate Su (University of Calgary), Bruce Hrivnak (Valparaiso University), and NASA