Icy Blue Wings of Hen: NASA Image of the Day

I haven’t posted one of these in a while, but I couldn’t resist this one. Look how cool this is. Its like a giant blue propeller flying straight toward us. Space is awesome.

Hubble Watches the Icy Blue Wings of Hen 2-437

In this cosmic snapshot, the spectacularly symmetrical wings of Hen 2-437 show up in a magnificent icy blue hue. Hen 2-437 is a planetary nebula, one of around 3,000 such objects known to reside within the Milky Way.

Located within the faint northern constellation of Vulpecula (The Fox), Hen 2-437 was first identified in 1946 by Rudolph Minkowski, who later also discovered the famous and equally beautiful M2-9 (otherwise known as the Twin Jet Nebula). Hen 2-437 was added to a catalog of planetary nebula over two decades later by astronomer and NASA astronaut Karl Gordon Henize.

Planetary nebulae such as Hen 2-437 form when an aging low-mass star — such as the sun — reaches the final stages of life. The star swells to become a red giant, before casting off its gaseous outer layers into space. The star itself then slowly shrinks to form a white dwarf, while the expelled gas is slowly compressed and pushed outwards by stellar winds. As shown by its remarkably beautiful appearance, Hen 2-437 is a bipolar nebula — the material ejected by the dying star has streamed out into space to create the two icy blue lobes pictured here.

Courtesy of NASA.org | Image credit: ESA (European Space Agency)/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt | Text credit: ESA

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About the Author:

Paul Matthew Carr
Paul is a writer, artist and designer. He spends an inordinate amount of time on the Internet blogging about silly things and even more time making things up and then attempting to convince people they are proper stories. He also talks into microphones from time to time.

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