Image of the Day: Marvel at this jaw-dropping, twin-jet nebula

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Aug 31, 2015

Being bipolar is not always a good thing if you're a human being, but it's often spectacular if you happen to be an astronomical object!  Witness the luminous wonder of this twin-jet nebula snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope and released by NASA this week. The image shows a rare heavenly event depicting a winged binary star in its death throes.  The thick disc of stellar material is expanding outward from the twin-jet nebula at the speed of 600,000 mph and a distance spanning several times the width of the exo-planet Pluto.

Here's NASA official explanation:

Ordinary planetary nebulae have one star at their centre, bipolar nebulae have two, in a binary star system. Astronomers have found that the two stars in this pair each have around the same mass as the Sun, ranging from 0.6 to 1.0 solar masses for the smaller star, and from 1.0 to 1.4 solar masses for its larger companion. The larger star is approaching the end of its days and has already ejected its outer layers of gas into space, whereas its partner is further evolved, and is a small white dwarf.

Within the wings, starting from the star system and extending horizontally outwards like veins are two faint blue patches. Although these may seem subtle in comparison to the nebula’s rainbow colours, these are actually violent twin jets streaming out into space, at speeds in excess of one million kilometres per hour. This is a phenomenon that is another consequence of the binary system at the heart of the nebula. These jets slowly change their orientation, precessing across the lobes as they are pulled by the wayward gravity of the binary system.

Are you impressed by this interstellar display, or is it just another ho-hum day in the heavens?

(Via Gizmodo)