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The unearthly beauty of the Red Rectangle

1 February 2016 Astronomy Now

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.

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Exiled stars explode far from home

5 June 2015 Astronomy Now

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.