Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA Acknowledgement: Josh Barrington
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA Acknowledgement: Josh Barrington

 

When sun-like stars exhaust the remainder of fuel for nuclear fusion stored in their cores, they shed the glowing shell of ionized gases into space, forming beautiful planetary nebulae. This image is a great example of one, as are the butterfly nebula and the Helix nebula.

 

This particular one was discovered in the early 1900’s by Robert Jonckheere, named Jonckheere 900, or simply J 900 (after its founder), which lies some 4.9 kPC from Earth, in the Gemini constellation.

 

As you can see, there are two distinct objects visible in this area, which is apparently problematic for astronomers, as the central star feeding J 900 (the nebula) sometimes appears as a double star, instead of two. However, the central star is much, much fainter than its celestial neighbor. It is due to the fact that Hubble is not handicapped by the Earth’s atmosphere that we can clearly discern between the two at all.

 

Also, like many other planetary nebula, Jonckheere 900 displays bipolar tendencies, wherein the source feeding the nebula spits out gas through both poles, with the outflows forming symmetrical shapes.