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The unearthly beauty of the Red Rectangle

Straight lines do not often crop up in space. Whenever they do, they seem somehow incongruous and draw our attention. The Red Rectangle, a so-called planetary nebula surrounding the double star HD 44179 some 2300 light-years away in the constellation of Monoceros, is one such mystery object.


Exiled stars explode far from home

Hubble Space Telescope images confirm that three supernovae discovered several years ago exploded in the dark emptiness of intergalactic space — their nearest neighbours probably 300 light-years away — having been flung from their home galaxies millions or billions of years earlier.