Location: Constellation Ophiuchus
Coordinates: 17 05 37.952 -10 08 34.58
Distance: 2,100 ly
Bipolar or “butterfly” planetary nebula consisting of twin lobes of material emanating from a central, dying star. Because of the nebula’s shape and the measured velocity of the gas, in excess of 300 kilometers per second, astronomers compare the outflow to a pair of supersonic jet exhausts.
A pair of stellar-scale Birkeland currents have twisted very tightly around each other, compressing themselves and ultimately resulting in a powerful plasma discharge and z-pinch. The z-pinch very strongly compresses the intervening plasma into a singular point generating shock-waves of highly energized plasma in opposite directions perpendicular to the plane of the pinch point. The laterally moving knotted filament is an electrical discharge running along the inner shell of the expanding plasma double-layer.