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Image Credit: NASA and B. Balick (University of Washington), V. Icke (Leiden University) Garrelt Mellema (Stockholm University).
STScI Release of M2-9

Mz 3
Image Credit: B. Balick (University of Washington), V. Icke (Leiden University).

STScI Release of Mz 3

These beautiful, butterfly shaped nebulae are a striking example of death and destruction. Mz 3 is one of a slowly growing number of nebulae identified with "symbiotic novae". All of these nebulae have two things in common: their central stars all belong to the rare class of "symbiotic binary stars", and also the nebulae around these stars are very extreme "bipolar nebulae" with a symmetric pair of long, thin lobes on either side of the nucleus. In the picture above, Mz 3 (far right) is shown in different filters from the Heritage image. Other examples of bipolar nebulae are M2-9 (left) and He2-104 (middle).

He2-104 (The Southern Crab)
Image Credit: NASA and R. Corradi (Inst. de Astrofisica de Canarias), M. Livio, (STScI), U. Munari (Obs. Astr. di Padova-Asiago), H. Schwarz (Nordic Optical Telescope).

STScI Release of He2-104


Many astronomers feel that the outflows from these lobes resemble the exhausts of two jet engines facing each other nose to nose.

In the adjacent picture, planetary nebula M2-9 is shown on the left. At right is a daytime picture of a Delta rocket launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida with the Stardust Mission to Comet Wilde in February 1999. The similarities between one lobe of the nebula and the rocket plume (shown in firey yellow) are stunningly obvious.

Image Credit: Bruce Balick (Univ. of Wash)

Related Animations and Video Zoom:
How to form a Planetary Nebula
3.4MB QuickTime
Animation Credit: STScI AVL

Video Zoom of Mz 3
Animation Credit: STScI AVL