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Interstellar Tadpoles?
cometary knots or humongous interstellar tadpoles?This awesome image, a product of the Hubble Space Telescope, shows objects that look like humongous interstellar tadpoles surrounding a dying star. The objects are called "cometary knots" by astronomers because they resemble the dirty ice balls with long tails that sometimes visit the neighborhood of Earth. These cometary knots are gaseous fragments that are probably the result of the dying star's final outbursts. They were detected by astronomer C. Robert O'Dell and graduate student Kerry P. Handron, both of Rice University in Houston, Texas. They were found with Hubble while the two were exploring the Helix nebula, the closest planetary nebula to Earth at a mere 450 light years away. Although cometary knots have been seen before through ground-based telescopes, astronomers have never before seen such an abundance of them. If you like this picture, you can always go to the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore to see more cool Hubble pictures.

       
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