NASA's Hubble Telescope Captures Two Stars Going Haywire

A leading theory for the generation of such structures in planetary nebulas is that the mass-losing star is one of two stars in a binary system.

Space is chaotic.

The universe is a huge expanse of a (so-far) never-ending abyss, which humans have only discovered a tiny bit of. And in this tiny bit, NASA has recently observed two stars going haywire.

Most stars are static, but and nuclear fusion engines, they live placid lives for hundreds of millions to billions of years. But sometimes, towards the end of their lives they can turn into crazy whirligigs, puffing off shells and jets of hot gas.

NASA's astronomers employed Hubble's full range of imaging capabilities to dissect such crazy fireworks happening in two nearby young planetary nebulas.

The two stars are: NGC 6302, which is dubbed the Butterfly Nebula because of its wing-like appearance and NGC 7027, which resembles a jewel bug, an insect with a brilliantly colorful metallic shell.

When I looked in the Hubble archive and realized no one had observed these nebulas with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 across its full wavelength range, I was floored," said Joel Kastner of Rochester Institute of Technology, in a NASA blog. "These new multi-wavelength Hubble observations provide the most comprehensive view to date of both of these spectacular nebulas. As I was downloading the resulting images, I felt like a kid in a candy store."

The new Hubble images revealed in vivid detail how both nebulas are splitting themselves apart on extremely short timescales — allowing astronomers to see changes ov