Universe

Ant Nebula Nebulae in the Milky Way

Ant Nebula Nebulae in the Milky Way

The planetary nebula Mz3 is being emptied by a star similar to our Sun that is surely round. Why then should the gas that is flowing outside create an ant-shaped nebula, which is clearly not round?

Among the different keys are the high speed of 1,000 kilometers per second of the expelled gas, the long structure of 1 light year in length and the magnetism of the star visible above in the center of the nebula.

One possible answer is that Mz3 is hiding a dimmer second star that orbits near the bright star. A competent hypothesis argues that the spin itself and the magnetic field of the central star are channeling the gas.

Because the central star seems to be similar to our own Sun, astronomers hope that the growing knowledge of the history of this giant space ant can provide a useful insight into the possible future of our own Sun and Earth.

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Album: Photos of the Universe Gallery: Nebulae in the Milky Way