Incredible Hubble Space Telescope Image: The Twin Jet Nebula

A cosmic light show
Science • Views: 59,699

Here’s a brand new image from the Hubble Space Telescope of an amazing cosmic butterfly; the jets of multicolored material you see here are being ejected from the star system at more than one million kilometers per hour.

The cosmic butterfly pictured in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image goes by many names. It is called the Twin Jet Nebula as well as answering to the slightly less poetic name of PN M2-9.

The M in this name refers to Rudolph Minkowski, a German-American astronomer who discovered the nebula in 1947. The PN, meanwhile, refers to the fact that M2-9 is a planetary nebula. The glowing and expanding shells of gas clearly visible in this image represent the final stages of life for an old star of low to intermediate mass. The star has not only ejected its outer layers, but the exposed remnant core is now illuminating these layers — resulting in a spectacular light show. However, the Twin Jet Nebula is not just any planetary nebula, it is a bipolar nebula.

Ordinary planetary nebulae have one star at their center, 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.

The characteristic shape of the wings of the Twin Jet Nebula is most likely caused by the motion of the two central stars around each other. It is believed that as the dying star and white dwarf orbit around their common center of mass, the ejected gas from the dying star is pulled into two lobes rather than expanding as a uniform sphere. However, astronomers are still debating whether all bipolar nebulae are created by binary stars. Meanwhile the nebula’s wings are still growing and, by measuring their expansion, astronomers have calculated that the nebula was created only 1,200 years ago.

Jump to top

Create a PageThis is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.
Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.
Last updated: 2016-01-01 10:29 am PST
LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds Tweet

Help support Little Green Footballs!

Subscribe now for ad-free access!Register and sign in to a free LGF account before subscribing, and your ad-free access will be automatically enabled.

Recent PagesClick to refresh
STEALTHING: the Growing Movement of Men Who Secretly Remove Condoms During Sex Two years ago, a 19-year-old Florida teen posted a call for advice in the subreddit askgaybros. In the post, he said he met a guy on Grindr and went back to his place to hook up. When the guy ...
Birth Control Works
16 hours, 18 minutes ago
Views: 290 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 2
Comments: 0
: 2
Trump-Free Sunday Mornings-Daily Beast We think it’s time to go on a more balanced Donald Diet—call it a Sabbath for sanity. And that’s why we’re going to embark on a new experiment: Trump-free Sunday mornings. Barring major breaking news, for a few hours ...
Unshaken Defiance
1 day, 1 hour ago
Views: 173 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 3
Comments: 0
: 3
Video: John Muir - The Last Oasis John Muir - The Last Oasis is a short film directed by Michael Coleman a Martinez, California native inspired by the writings of naturalist, author and early advocate of wilderness preservation John Muir. Many of the locations featured in ...
teleskiguy
1 day, 12 hours ago
Views: 392 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
The Woman Who Saved Lower Manhattan From Becoming a Highway What makes a city? It's not the buildings (skyscrapers) or the streets (traffic), or the banks and government offices and shopping districts sandwiched between them. It's the people. This is obvious nearly to the point of tautology, yet in ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 20 hours ago
Views: 300 • Comments: 2 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Domestic Violence Shelters Make Plea for State Budget Resolution A group of domestic violence shelter representatives and other human services advocates gathered at Mutual Ground's headquarters in Aurora Wednesday morning to again make a plea for a resolution on the state's budget crisis and to call attention to ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 22 hours ago
Views: 188 • Comments: 1 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
This Wasn’t the First Act of ‘River Piracy’ to Affect the Yukon’s Biggest Lake Image: Kluane11.jpg Author: Dermot Cole, Alaska Dispatch News Canadian geologist John Clague, whose research on Kluane Lake began in 1980, has long believed that the biggest river flowing into the largest lake in the Yukon Territory could be switched ...
Cheechako
2 days, 15 hours ago
Views: 222 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
BBC Radio 4 - Seriously… - Seriously… - 10 Women Who Changed Sci-Fi 10 Women Who Changed Sci-Fi As the Radio 4 documentary Herland examines how science fiction tackles ideas of gender in future worlds, we present a selection of great female authors who have radically altered the genre... Mary Shelley Credited ...
Birth Control Works
2 days, 15 hours ago
Views: 321 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 2
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Housing Vouchers Would Change the Face of Poverty - Vice VICE: What should every renter understand about their rights?Matthew Desmond: Rights vary from city to city, so getting to know your rights is a matter of knowing where you live, as they can actually be very fair. For example, ...
Birth Control Works
2 days, 15 hours ago
Views: 281 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Craig Finn - ‘Be Honest’ (Live at WFUV)wfuv.org • Follow @wfuv: ow.ly Craig Finn performs "Be Honest" live in Studio A. Recorded 2.21.17. Host: Eric HollandAudio: Jim O'HaraCameras: Sabrina Sitton, Michael Sperling, Kevin O'Malley & Alexandra ReillyEditor: Kevin O'Malley & Sarah Burns
Tarkloon
2 days, 16 hours ago
Views: 187 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger - Official Trailer Get your first look at the upcoming Freeform TV series about the two young Marvel heroes, starring Olivia Holt as Dagger and Aubrey Joseph as Cloak. Watch more trailers here! Check out the latest and greatest from IGN here! ...
Tarkloon
2 days, 16 hours ago
Views: 207 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0