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Rotten Egg Nebula stars in fresh Hubble image

The Rotten Egg Nebula gets its funny nickname from a feature that would make you turn up your nose.

Get a whiff of the Rotten Egg Nebula.
ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

Just look at this Hubble Space Telescope image of the the Rotten Egg Nebula. You might think it gets its evocative nickname from the ovoid shape on the left side, but it's actually due to the nebula's large amount of sulfur. Don't worry, though. You can't smell it, even on a dark, clear night. It's 5,000 light-years away from Earth.

The Rotten Egg Nebula is a stellar formation with many names. Officially, it carries the technical name OH 231.8+04.2. It's also known as the Calabash Nebula. A calabash is a gourd, some types of which grow into bottle-like shapes. The Bowling Pin Nebula might have been another good option.

The nebula gets its dynamic appearance from the violent processes that happens when a star dies. The European Space Agency explains how the image "shows the star going through a rapid transformation from a red giant to a planetary nebula, during which it blows its outer layers of gas and dust out into the surrounding space." NASA highlighted the Hubble image on Friday as part of its Image of the Day series.

Here's an extra bit of fun trivia. The Rotten Egg Nebula is located in the constellation Puppis, which can translate into either the stern of a ship, or, more entertainingly, the poop deck. If you want to impress some young space-fan kids, you can point out Puppis and declare, "Look. Up in the sky. There's a Rotten Egg on the Poop Deck."

The Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1990 and is still going strong.

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