Today I learned about the Coldest Place In The Universe: The Boomerang Nebula. This nebula was discovered, according to this article by the ESA – NASA Hubble project, in 1980 by a couple of South African scientists, and named by a couple of guys in Australia. What’s interesting about this blue devil is that it is apparently the coldest recorded place in the universe, clocking (thermometering?) in at 1K. Yes, one degree above absolute zero ( 0K / -273.15°C / -459.67°F). Absolute zero, for any who don’t know, is the lowest possible temperature, at which all heat energy has left a substance and the only energy remaining is zero-point energy.
What’s particularly peculiar is that even the cosmic microwave background radiation, the “leftover” energy from the Big Bang, is warmer than this nebula. The drop in temperature is due to the fact that the nebula’s gas is being blown out from a very small source (the star at its center) and then rapidly expanding. This corresponds to a drop in temperature in the same way that blowing on the back of your hand with with your lips pursed feels colder than simply breathing on the back of your hands with an open mouth.
What an interesting universe we live in. This is just one of many reasons why I enjoy astronomy.