(KRON/CNN) – NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured a rare event — a star going through a rapid transformation from a red giant to a planetary nebula. The star sheds its outer layers of gas and dust out into the surrounding space.
Material ejected in the process is blown away in opposite directions with immense speed.
Astronomers say the calabash nebula is a spectacular example of the death of a low-mass star like the sun. And it all happens in “the blink of an eye.”
Storm Team 4 Meteorologist Ben Gelber talked to Paul Sutter, chief scientist at COSI, who noted, “While most stars will end up sharing similar fates (including our sun in about 4.5 billion years), this stage doesn’t last for long, so to capture the formation of this new planetary nebula is a lucky find.”
A red giant is a late-stage massive star with a chilly surface temperature and extraordinarily bright, but lacking hydrogen in the core that fuels nuclear fusion.