1. The Red Rectangle Nebula

    The Red Rectangle Nebula is a binary star system where one of the stars is in the final stages of its life. The two stars are very close and orbit each other every 10 1/2 months. One star is forming a planetary nebula with a characteristic rectangular shape. The star is ejecting gas in two oppositely spaced cones. We see the cones side on and they look like an “X”. The lines in the X are created by the regularly spaced outbursts of gas. The unusual colours of the gas are not well understood, but it is suspected that they are at least partially created by hydrocarbon molecules that could be the building blocks of life.

    Fathom the Universe

    Photo credit: NASA Hubble Telescope


Flag Counter