NASA's Hubble Telescope Captures Rare Image of Dying 'Rotten Egg' Star
Credit: ESA/Hubble/NASA

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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.