NASA / ESA / STSCI / HUBBLE HERITAGE TEAM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / ESA / STSCI / HUBBLE HERITAGE TEAM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Ant nebula. Hubble Space Telescope image of the Ant nebula (Menzel 3 or Mz3). This is a planetary nebula, an expanding cloud of glowing gas expelled by a dying Sun-like star (centre) at its heart. The bipolar nature of the shells of gas (seen to the left and right of the star) are unusual. They may be due to the presence of a closely orbiting companion star. The expelled gas glows due to ionisation by radiation from the star. The Ant nebula lies around 3000 light years from Earth. The name planetary nebula is misleading and arose because of the resemblance between these objects and planets through early telescopes.
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