It’s the season to be merry – even if you’re 2,000 light years away. Nasa‘s Hubble space telescope has captured an unusually ‘festive’ looking galaxy, which looks like a soaring ‘snow angel’.

It’s a bipolar star-forming nebula – Sharpless 2-106 – with two ‘wings’ of super-hot glowing blue gas, stretching from a central star. The unusually festive galaxy captured by the Hubble: Actually a star-forming region with two blue ‘wings’ of hot gas, it looks like a ‘snow angel’.

The outstretched ‘wings’ of the nebula record the contrasting imprint of heat and motion against the backdrop of a colder medium. Twin lobes of super-hot gas, glowing blue in this image, stretch outward from the central star. A ring of dust and gas orbiting the star acts like a belt, ‘pulling in’ the expanding gas cloud into an ‘hourglass’ shape.

Sharpless 2-106 lies nearly 2,000 light-years from us. The nebula measures several light-years in length. It appears in a relatively isolated region of the Milky Way – our own galaxy. A massive, young star, IRS 4, is responsible for the furious activity we see in the nebula.

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