Double Helix Nebula

The Double Helix Nebula is a gaseous nebula near the center of our galaxy. It is thought to have been distorted by magnetic torsion into the shape of two connected spirals, known popularly as a double helix, akin to the shape of DNA.

The nebula was discovered by the Spitzer Space Telescope. The segment seen so far is thought to be 80 light years long, 300 light years from the supermassive black hole thought to be at the galaxy's center, and 25,000 light years from Earth.

This nebula is seen as circumstantial evidence that the magnetic fields at the center of the galaxy are extremely strong, more than 1,000 times stronger than those of the Sun. If so, they may be driven by the massive disc of gas orbiting the central supermassive black hole.

The Double Helix Nebula should not be confused with the Helix Nebula, a planetary nebula only 650 light years from Earth.

Famous quotes containing the word double:

    Was it the double of my dream
    The woman that by me lay
    Dreamed, or did we halve a dream
    Under the first cold gleam of day?
    William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)