This cluster of stellar bodies may be formally known as the “Necklace Nebula,” but to me it just looks like a peaceful, lush oasis hanging out in deep space.
Look at that. Gorgeous, right? This “diamond necklace of cosmic proportions,” as NASA describes it, is situated about 15,000 light-years from Earth, and it makes up a part of the Sagitta Constellation.
The Necklace Nebula was “born” about 10,000 years ago when the larger of two suns in a tight orbit expanded and engulfed its stellar sibling. But the smaller star continued its orbit, which in turn caused the larger star to rotate more quickly.
The escalating dance between these two stellar bodies sent debris and gas hurtling out into the surrounding space. Those extruded materials form the colorful array you see in the photo above, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. The “diamonds” are actually dense clusters of gas.
The original two stars that got this party started are still visible, though not as individuals. We see them as the bright, white dot in the middle of the green-hued inner ring (which is also the bit that gives me space oasis vibes here). The two are still in a close orbit around each other, with one revolution taking about a single Earth day to complete.
This photo represents a new look at the Necklace Nebula from Hubble. The earlier look, from 2011, wasn’t quite as colorful, but this new one, snapped by the satellite’s Wide Field Camera 3, benefits from more modern processing techniques.