The Stingray Nebula

1This is a NASA Hubble Space Telescope picture of the Stingray nebula (Hen-1357), the youngest known “planetary nebula”. The colors shown are actual colors emitted by nitrogen (red), oxygen (green), and hydrogen (blue).

The Stingray nebula, so named because its shape resembles a stingray fish, is about 18,000 light-years away in the southern constellation Ara (the Altar). It is as large as 130 solar systems.

Its central star is surrounded by a ring of gas (green), with bubbles of gas to the lower left and upper right of the ring. The creation of twin bubbles of gas in nebula has always been a mystery to astronomers. The image shows a second star (at about 10 o’clock) within the nebula. This indicates that the central star is part of a binary star system.

According to current theories, a planetary nebula forms after a dying, low-mass star swells to become a red giant and blows off some of its outer layers of material. As the nebula expands away from the star, the star’s remaining core gets extremely hot: its surface temperature may reach 400,000°C. The gas shines because of the ultra-violet radiation emitted by the central star. A fast wind — material propelled outward from the hot central star — compresses the gas and pushes the gas bubble outward.

Hen-1357 was initially classified as an ordinary B-type star. In 1970 no nebular material was detected, and twenty years ago the gas surrounding the central star was not hot enough to glow. According to an HST press release, “Previous ground-based spectroscopic observations show that, over the past few decades, Hen 1357 changed from looking like an ordinary hot star to an object with the characteristics of a young planetary nebula.”

This means that in less than 30 years, Hen-1357 has changed from a B-type star (surface temperature: 12,000–25,000°C) to a red giant, ejected the cloud of gas which formed the current Stingray nebula, then heated up to hundreds of thousands of degrees C. This fast “evolution” stunned evolutionist scientists, but not creationists, who firmly and rightly believe that God created the Sun, the Moon and the stars in one day, but could have created them in one hour or less, since He is omniscient and omnipotent. And without acknowledging God as the Supreme Cause of all things, the question of what started this nebula-forming process and why in our days, will never be answered.

“The heavens declare the glory of God” – What does the Bible say about the origin of the Sun, the Moon and the stars?

This image and many other spectacular NASA and ESA photos (see NSSDC Photo Gallery, STScI‘s Hubble Images and Hubble Heritage, JPL Planetary Photojournal, ESA Multimedia Gallery) may be freely used for non-commercial/any purposes with the condition of indicating the source (see copyright notices on the above web sites for details). Pictures showing visible order and design in space bear witness of God’s existence and could be used by Christians in support of the Gospel message.