“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