Image Credit: NASA, ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Acknowledgment: R. Sahai (Jet Propulsion Lab) and B. Balick (University of Washington)
The Hubble Space Telescope shows us another example of how our Sun might die in 5 billion years. The “Ant Nebula, ” or Menzel 3, shows two glowing bubbles coming out from the dying star. Astronomers are most curious about the equal shape of the bubble on either side of the star. This symmetry offers scientists a chance to come up with many different ideas on the cause.
These images of planetary nebula show astronomers that the Sun’s fate will be much more interesting, colorful and complex than they thought just a few years ago.
The Hubble Space Telescope took this image in 1997 and 1998. The Ant Nebula is located in a small constellation called Norma, the Southern Triangle, near the constellation Scorpius, the scorpion. Light traveled 3,000 years from the “Ant Nebula” to reach our eyes on Earth.
Do you see any other patterns in this image? Does this ant have legs? What might have caused them?