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Space

Mystery Alignment of Planetary Nebulae Discovered 86

astroengine writes "Astronomers have discovered something weird in the Milky Way's galactic bulge — a population of planetary nebula are all mysteriously pointing in the same direction. They noticed the mysterious alignment in the long axes of bipolar planetary nebulae. 'This really is a surprising find and, if it holds true, a very important one,' said Bryan Rees of the University of Manchester, co-author of the paper (PDF) to appear in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 'Many of these ghostly butterflies appear to have their long axes aligned along the plane of our galaxy.' The team of astronomers, who used data from Hubble and the European Southern Observatory's New Technology Telescope (NTT) to survey 130 nebulae, posit that powerful magnetic fields may be behind the phenomenon."

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