Ant Nebula


Why is this ant not a big sphere? Planetary nebula Mz3 is being cast off by a star similar to our Sun that is round. Why then would the gas that is streaming away create an ant shaped nebula that is distinctly not round? Clues might include the high 1000-kilometer per second speed of the expelled gas, the light-year long length of the structure, and the magnetism of the star visible above at the nebula center. One possible answer is that Mz3 is hiding a second, dimmer star that orbits close in to the bright star. Astronomers hope that increased understanding of the history of this giant space ant can provide useful insight into the likely future of our own Sun and Earth.

2011: “Out of this World: Contemporary Star Quilts” Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum Golden, CO
2011: “Craft USA Triennial”, New Canaan, CT

Available at the “Light of the Stars” Exhibit in Bethesda, Maryland, November 22 through December 28