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I HEART HUBBLE: Hourglass Nebula

Planetary Nebula MyCn18: An Hourglass Pattern Around a Dying Star
I HEART HUBBLE is an ongoing series about everyone’s favourite space telescope. If we can’t go to space ourselves, at least we can browse through NASA’s royalty-free imagery and enjoy the scenery. Ad astra!

“Planetary Nebula MyCn18: An Hourglass Pattern Around a Dying Star”:

JANUARY 16, 1996: This Hubble telescope snapshot of MyCn18, a young planetary nebula, reveals that the object has an hourglass shape with an intricate pattern of “etchings” in its walls. A planetary nebula is the glowing relic of a dying, Sun-like star.

The results are of great interest because they shed new light on the poorly understood ejection of stellar matter that accompanies the slow death of Sun-like stars. According to one theory on the formation of planetary nebulae, the hourglass shape is produced by the expansion of a fast stellar wind within a slowly expanding cloud, which is denser near its equator than near its poles.

Credits: Raghvendra Sahai and John Trauger (JPL), the WFPC2 science team, and NASA

Image and quoted text source: Hubblesite.org

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