The Ant Nebula !

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The Ant Nebula !

Mz 3 (Menzel 3) is a young bipolar planetary nebula in the constellation Norma.

It is composed of a bright core and four distinct high-velocity outflows that have been named lobes, columns, rays, and chakram.

Mz 3 is often referred to as the Ant Nebula because it resembles the head and thorax of a garden-variety ant.

The Ant Nebula is 8,000 light years away from Earth and it has a magnitude of 13.8. It was discovered by Donald Howard Menzel in 1922.

A planetary nebula is an emission nebula consisting of an expanding glowing shell of ionized gas ejected during the asymptotic giant branch phase of certain types of stars late in their life. Planetary nebula is a partial misnomer that originated with astronomer William Herschel, because when viewed through his telescope, these objects appeared to be clouds (nebulae) that were similar in appearance to Uranus, the planet that had been discovered telescopically by Herschel. Herschel’s name for these objects was adopted by astronomers and has not been changed, even though planetary nebulae are now known to be completely unrelated to the planets of the solar system. Planetary nebulae often contain stars, but do not contain visible planets. They are a relatively short-lived phenomenon, lasting a few tens of thousands of years, compared to a typical stellar lifetime of several billion years.

Read more about the Ant Nebula on Google Plus.

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