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News Release 44 of 49

January 16, 1996 12:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1996-07

Hubble Finds an Hourglass Nebula around a Dying Star

An American Astronomical Society Meeting Release

January 16, 1996: This Hubble telescope snapshot of MyCn18, a young planetary nebula, reveals that the object has an hourglass shape with an intricate pattern of "etchings" in its walls. A planetary nebula is the glowing relic of a dying, Sun-like star.

The results are of great interest because they shed new light on the poorly understood ejection of stellar matter that accompanies the slow death of Sun-like stars. According to one theory on the formation of planetary nebulae, the hourglass shape is produced by the expansion of a fast stellar wind within a slowly expanding cloud, which is denser near its equator than near its poles.

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Credits: Raghvendra Sahai and John Trauger (JPL), the WFPC2 science team, and NASA