Presented By
The Calabash Nebula, pictured here — which has the technical name OH 231.8+04.2 — is a spectacular example of the death of a low-mass star like the Sun.

NASA and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope has captured a rare image that shows the spectacular death of a star.

The dying star can be seen transforming from a red giant to a planetary nebula called the Calabash Nebula, technically known as 231.8+04.2, according to the ESA. During this transformation, the dying star blows its outer layers of gas and dust out into the surrounding space at a speed close to 621,371 miles per hour.

The nebula is also known as the Rotten Egg Nebula, the ESA reports, because it contains a lot of sulphur, which smells like rotten egg when it combines with other elements. Luckily, as the nebula resides over 5,000 light-years away in the constellation of Puppis, humans don’t need to worry about the stench.

The star’s death occurs “within the blink of an eye — in astronomical terms,” according to the ESA, which explains why this kind of photo is hard to come by. Next, the star will evolve into a fully formed planetary nebula over the next thousand years.

More Must-Reads From TIME

Write to Kate Samuelson at

You May Also Like