How do planetary nebulae form?
This movie combines scientific images with an artist’s imagination, showing one possible mechanism for the formation of these types of planetary nebulae. A key clue comes from the gas flowing out from the center of the nebula. The gas is ejected in what astronomers call jets at over 700,000 miles per hour (1.1 million kilometers per hour). From telescopic observations, we also know that the central star in some of these nebulae is one of a very closely orbiting pair; one star may even be engulfed by the other’s gaseous stellar atmosphere.