An Hourglass within An Hourglass!!

No doubt I love these things called Nebulae!! After the Butterfly and the Cat’s Eyes, here is an Hourglass (embedded within another Hourglass!!).

Symbiotic Stars in the Southern Crab Nebula (Credit: NASA)

This is a planetary nebula in the constellation Centaurus, residing at whose center are two stars – a White Dwarf (a burned out dead star, with a size as this word ‘dwarf’ suggests – really small) and a pulsating Red Giant (shedding it’s outer layers and as giants are supposed to be i.e. huge in size), but each with a mass roughly equal to that of the Sun. The pulsating giant sheds it’s outer layer; the dwarf catches some of it and forms an accretion disk around itself. It continues to accrete gas till there is enough mass to cause an explosion and then blows off the material, which is what we see here in the shape of an hourglass. The two hourglasses are thought to be the result of two different outbursts that has happened with an interval of some thousand years!


About Panchi

Residing in the Solar System (Milky Way), lost in the beauty of Nature and the vastness of Universe, I am just another Earthling trying to make sense of life!
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