When a star like our Sun dies, it will cast off its outer layers, usually into a simple overall shape—often a sphere, sometimes a double lobe, and sometimes a ring or a helix. In the case of planetary nebula NGC 5189 no such simple structure emerged. Astronomers trying to figure out why NGC 5189 turned out this was have been using the Hubble Space Telescope for detailed observations. Previous observations suggested the existence of multiple events of material outflow; a recent one created a bright but distorted torus running horizontally across image center. New results point toward the dying star being part of a binary star system. NGC 5189 spans about three light years and lies about 3,000 light years away toward the southern constellation of Musca (The Fly).
Image Credit: NASA