Symbiotic Star Blows Bubbles into Space
Panel 1: A pulsating red giant star and a compact, hot white dwarf star orbit each other.
Panel 2: The red giant sheds much of its outer layers in a stellar wind. The white dwarf helps concentrate the wind along a thin equatorial plane. The white dwarf accretes some of this escaping gas forming a disk around the itself.
Panel 3: When enough gas accumulates on the white dwarf's surface it explodes as a nova outburst. Most of the hot gas forms a pair of expanding bubbles above and below the equatorial disk.
Panel 4: A few thousand years after the bubbles expand into space, the white dwarf goes through another nova outburst and makes another pair of bubbles, which form a distinctive hourglass shape.