Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

Astro-image of the Day: planetary nebula NGC 2371

This Hubble photograph shows a star in the throes of death. The pink bulges in the foreground and background are jets moving away from the central star at higher speed than the rest of the matter. The star ejected all of this in the recent past, and this nebula will only glow for a few thousand more years. The initial explosion heated the gas to hundreds of millions of degrees, and continued heavy radiation keeps it extremely hot. However, as time passes and the sun cools, the gas loses heat, growing darker as the nebula expands into the dark of interstellar space.

Click the image to see the story.

One of the exciting things scientists discovered about this nebula is that those pink knots are rotating as they rocket away. This suggests that there might be a second star orbiting the one that exploded, its gravity affecting the gas around it.

Tags: astronomy

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