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Cosmic Butterfly: Images of Twin Jet Nebula Captured by Hubble Space Telescope

Aug 28, 2015 12:58 PM EDT
Twin Jet Nebula
The Hubble Space Telescope recently captured detailed images of the Twin Jet Nebula. This is a remarkable example of a bipolar planetary nebula, which has two stars at its center. This nebula has ejected its outer layers, and illuminated them, which signifies it is in its final stages of life.
(Photo : ESA/Hubble & NASA Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt)

New images captured of the Twin Jet Nebula highlights the detail of its shells and its knots of expanding gas. This nebula, whose more technical name is PN M2-9, was photographed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

According to a news release, this "cosmic butterfly" has two iridescent lobes of material, which stretch outward from the central star system. Inside the lobes, there are two huge jets of gas that are streaming from the star system at speeds exceeding one million kilometers per hour. It has also been characterized as a bipolar nebula for having two stars at its center.

The Twin Jet Nebula was named in part after its discoverer Rudolph Minkowski, a German-American astronomer who caught site of it in 1947. The M of PN M2-9 stands for Minkowski, but the PN signifies that M2-9 is a planetary nebula.

The image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope clearly shows the glowing and expanding shells of gas. This marks the final stages of life for an old star of low to intermediate mass. The spectacular light show seen in the images is a result of the star ejecting its outer layers, which causes its exposed remnant core to illuminate them.

More information regarding the Twin Jet Nebula can be found online

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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