Hubble Space Telescope Images

Source:  Hubble Space Telescope

"Two Stars Going Haywire"
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has just captured new images of two nearby stars putting on a spectacular fireworks display in outer space.  They are two planetary nebulae named the Butterfly nebula and NGC 7027.  Astronomers say they are highly unusual, among the dustiest planetary nebulae ever discovered and contain unusually large amounts of gas.

Nuclear Fusion
Stars are engines of nuclear fusion.  They live peaceful lives for billions of years.  But near the end of their lives the fireworks start with erupting jets of hot gas from them exploding into the universe.  Astronomers say the complexity and rapid changes in the jets of gas shooting off these two stars is unprecedented.  The new Hubble images demonstrate that the two stars are splitting themselves apart in a very short timeframe.

Unprecedented Access
Hubble is providing astronomers with unprecedented access to this celestial event.  They believe that NGV 7027 has been shooting off jets of its mass for centuries.  But, according to lead researcher Joel Kastner:  "Something recently went haywire in the center, producing a new cloverleaf pattern with bullets of material shooting out in specific directions."  A team of astronomers led by Kastner is trying to pinpoint a cause of this spectacular, double star event.


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