Two dying stars met in a deadly dance in this amazing image of the Twin Jet planetary nebula.
The butterfly shape was formed by a star ballet from similar Sun stars at the end of its life.
The main star of this binary system has become a red dwarf and has a mass that is approximately 1.0-1.4 times the mass of the Sun. Because of what its outer shell is discarded by stellar winds, exposing the stellar core, which will eventually become a white dwarf.
Another star has already become a white dwarf (star corpse) and has a mass of 0.6 to 1.0 times greater than the mass of the Sun.
The white dwarf rotates very closely to the main star, interacting with a stellar atmosphere and forming a nebula.
This pair of stars rotates at a distance of about 100 light years, and astronomers believe that the gravity of one of the stars attracts the star material of its companion and twists it into two thin rainbow petals that extend far into space.
Petals are still growing and, measuring the speed of their expansion, scientists estimate that the nebula was formed about 1,200 years ago.
A planetary nebula is a huge envelope of expanding gas. This shell gradually heats up, and the kaleidoscope of colors is caused by various chemicals.
Inside the Twin Jet planetary nebula, faint blue spots can be seen extending horizontally, like veins, barely visible in the colors of the rainbow nebula.
These blue spots are actually jets moving at a speed of more than a million kilometers per hour from a rapidly rotating star system.
This rotation creates not only projections and jets, but also allows the white dwarf to strip the gas out of the larger companion, which then forms a large disk of material around the pair.
Previously, the image of the Twin Jet Nebula was made using data from the Hubble wide-angle planetary camera in 1997. The new version includes later observations using the Hubble Space Telescope imaging spectrograph, with further processing by Judy Schmidt.
Although they are called planetary nebulae, no planets really exist. This name was derived from the fact that when this type of nebula was first discovered in the 1780s, it looked like distant planets.