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May 16, 2018

Laser emissions discovered emerging from the Ant Nebula

Posted by in category: space

An international team of astronomers has identified a rare laser phenomenon shining from the heart of the planetary nebula Menzel 3, otherwise known as the Ant Nebula. The discovery suggests the presence of an as yet unseen companion star, hiding at the core of the chaotic cosmic structure.

Menzel 3 is located roughly 8,000 light years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Norma. Discovered by Donald Menzel in the 1920s, it was given the moniker of the Ant Nebula, owing to its apparent similarity to the head and thorax of a garden ant.

The striking object belongs to a specific family of diffuse bodies known as planetary nebula. Despite their suggestive name, the formation of these beautiful structures has nothing to do with planets, and is instead rooted in the demise of middleweight stars similar to our Sun.

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