Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day we feature a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

January 4, 1996
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Symbiotic Star System R Aquarii
Credit: Anglo-Australian Telescope photograph by David Malin
Copyright: Anglo-Australian Telescope Board

Explanation: Sometimes stars work together to create a spectacular display. Such is the case with the binary star system R Aquarii - a "symbiotic" star system. Here two stars, a variable giant and a white dwarf companion - create both a nebula and a jet. Light from the giant star and the unusually shaped nebula are visible in the above photograph. The two visible shells in the nebula likely resulted from two separate outburst events. Much about symbiotic star systems remains unknown.

Tomorrow's picture: The Toby Jug Nebula

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (GMU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA).
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