Death Of The Sun: How Will It Look? Hubble Gives A Glimpse By Capturing Rare Image

First Posted: Feb 14, 2017 04:25 AM EST

The Sun is not dying anytime soon. However, when it does die, how will the death of our star look like? A recent rare image taken by NASA/ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope (HST) may have just given us a glimpse of the death of the Sun.

HST captured the photo of the Calabash Nebula, which shows the star undergoing a rapid transformation from a red giant to a planetary nebula. According to NASA, the spectacular image shows the death of a low mass star like our Sun, which inadvertently gives us a peek into billions of years in the future when our parent star could be going through the same phase.

The image shows how newly ejected material is thrown out in opposite directions with incredible speed, at nearly 1 million kilometers per hour. It is the speed at which the yellow gas seen in the photo is moving. It is rare to capture the image of a star in this phase of its lifespan because it takes place within the blink of an eye -- that is in astronomical terms. The Calabash Nebula is estimated to evolve into a fully fledged planetary nebula over the next thousand years.

Technically known as OH 231.8+04.2, the Calabash Nebula is also referred to as the Rotten Egg Nebula because it has a lot of sulfur, an element which combines with other elements to produce a rotten egg-like smell. However, luckily, Earthlings do not or would not have to bear the brunt of the smell because the nebula is located over 5,000 lightyears away in the constellation of Puppis.

Thankfully, humans also do not have to worry about the Sun going through such a phase soon. Our star is approximately middle aged and will remain stable for another 5 billion years, before it embarks on the process of becoming a red giant.

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