Dragon's Egg Bipolar Emission Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Rowan Prangley
Explanation: How did a star form this beautiful nebula? In the middle of emission nebula NGC 6164 is an unusually massive star. The central star has been compared to an oyster's pearl and an egg protected by the mythical sky dragons of Ara. The star, visible in the center of the featured image and catalogued as HD 148937, is so hot that the ultraviolet light it emits heats up gas that surrounds it. That gas was likely thrown off from the star previously, possibly the result of a gravitational interaction with a looping stellar companion. Expelled material might have been channeled by the magnetic field of the massive star, in all creating the symmetric shape of the bipolar nebula. NGC 6164 spans about four light years and is located about 3,600 light years away toward the southern constellation Norma.