Redorbit.com - 9/4/13
Image Caption: This mosaic shows a selection of stunning images of bipolar planetary nebulae taken by Hubble. (Upper row from left) NGC 6302, NGC 6881, NGC 5189. (Lower row from left) M2-9, Hen 3-1475, Hubble 5. Credit: ESA/NASA/Hubble Space Telescope
A planetary nebula occurs in the final stages of a star’s life when its outer layers begin to stretch out into the surrounding space. Such nebulae can create beautiful objects in the night sky, with some stretching out into an hourglass or butterfly shape. The latest research, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, has found that butterfly-shaped nebulae tend to have a bizarre alignment.
“The alignment we’re seeing for these bipolar nebulae indicates something bizarre about star systems within the central bulge,” explains Rees. “For them to line up in the way we see, the star systems that formed these nebulae would have to be rotating perpendicular to the interstellar clouds from which they formed, which is very strange.”