The Red Square Nebula, located in the area of the sky occupied by MWC 922 in the Serpens constellation, is one of the most symmetrical celestial objects ever discovered. In 2019, scientists discovered that MWC 922 at the nebula's center emits a powerful jet.
The first images of the nearly-symmetrical square nebula were taken using the Mt. Palomar Hale telescope in California in April 2007.
This object is remarkable for its square shape, which makes it one of the most symmetrical celestial objects ever imaged, according to Sydney University astrophysicist Peter Tuthill.
The Red Square Nebula is located 5 500 light-years away, in the portion of the sky occupied by star MWC 922, in the northern hemisphere constellation Serpens.
"Towards the end of their lives, many low-mass stars, like the Sun, slough off their outer layers to produce striking 'planetary' nebulae," Tuthill explained.
"But the hot star at the heart of the Red Square nebula, called MWC 922, appears to be relatively massive, suggesting another process formed its signature shape."
In 2019, scientists discovered that MWC 922 at the nebula's center emits a powerful jet.
A team from the University of Colorado assumes that this may indicate it was ejected from Messier 16 and the jet is a tail of mass from the star as it moved through space.
Meanwhile, NASA believes that the shape comes from expelled cones of gas late in development, and the cones happened to form in the shape of almost perfect right angles.
However, as of present, there is no precise explanation yet of how the central star could generate the nebula's shape.
"How did this beautiful, crisp structure form? This is the million-dollar question," Tuthill said.
Featured image credit: Peter Tuthill/Sydney University, Palomar & W. Keck Observatories