Explosive Mysteries Of The 'Dragon's Egg' Nebula Revealed

Scientists have unravelled the mystery behind one of the universe’s more beautiful objects - the ‘Dragon’s Egg’ nebula. When astronomers looked at a stellar pair at the heart of a stunning cloud of gas and dust, they were in for a surprise. New data from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) suggest there were originally three stars in the system, until two of them clashed and merged. The age difference between the stars — one star appears to be at least 1.5 million years younger than the other — suggests something must have rejuvenated the more massive star. Another piece of the puzzle is the nebula surrounding the stars, NGC 6164/6165. It is 7500 years old, hundreds of times younger than both stars and shows very high amounts of nitrogen, carbon and oxygen - evidence a violent event set them free. After studying the data, the scientists confirmed that two inner stars merged in a violent manner, creating a magnetic star and throwing out some material, which created the nebula.