NASA today released a portrait of the glowing green remnants of a dying binary star system called the Necklace Nebula. Astronomers discovered the system, also known as PN G054.2-03.4, during the 2005 IPHAS sky survey. It is 9 light-years-wide and located 15,000 light years away in the constellation Sagitta. Like other nebulae, the Necklace Nebula is made primarily of hydrogen (red), nitrogen (green) and oxygen (blue) gases. But the clumpy pattern of gases hints that a violent interaction between two stars led to its formation. One star much larger than the sun ballooned outward, engulfing its smaller sun-sized companion. The small star continued to orbit inside of the super-hot cloud, whipping the gases into a ring that eventually blew outward. The stars’ glowing embers now orbit each another roughly once every 29 hours.

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