Bipolar Planetary Nebulae Are Aligned In The Same Way, Puzzling Astronomers

September 4, 2013 6:05 PM

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Bipolar Planetary Nebulae Are Aligned In The Same Way, Puzzling Astronomers

Planetary nebulae are giant clouds of gas, consisting of a star’s outer layers, ejected near the end of a star’s life. Some of these nebulae, like the bipolar planetary nebulae, look like hourglasses, but despite all the differences in size and shape, many bipolar planetary nebulae line up in a similar fashion.

Astronomers from the University of Manchester discovered this “bizarre alignment” by using the Hubble Space Telescope and European Southern Observatory’s New Technology Telescope (NTT). The astronomers were observing 130 different planetary nebulae in the Milky Way’s central bulge and were able to c...

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