Hubble Captures Unprecedented Fading of Stingray Nebula

Dec. 3, 2020

Astronomers have caught a rare look at a rapidly fading shroud of gas around an aging star. Archival data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reveal that the nebula Hen 3-1357, nicknamed the Stingray nebula, has faded precipitously over just the past two decades. Witnessing such a swift rate of change in a planetary nebula is exceeding rare, say researchers.

This image compares two drastically different portraits of the Stingray nebula captured by NASA’s Hubble 20 years apart.

This image compares two drastically different portraits of the Stingray nebula captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope 20 years apart. The image on the left, taken with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 in March 1996, shows the nebula’s central star in the final stages of its life. The gas being puffed off by the dying star is much brighter when compared to the image of the nebula at the right, captured in January 2016 using the Wide Field Camera 3. The Stingray nebula is located in the direction of the southern constellation Ara (the Altar).Credits: NASA, ESA, B. Balick (University of Washington), M. Guerrero (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía), and G. Ramos-Larios (Universidad de Guadalajara)

Stingray nebula in 1996
This image shows the planetary nebula Hen 3-1357, nicknamed the Stingray nebula, captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in March 1996. The image captures the final stages of the central star’s life, where a ballooning shroud of gas is cast off by the dying star. This image captured the Stingray nebula in its infancy, and astronomers called it the youngest known planetary nebula. In this image, the colors shown represent light emitted by nitrogen (red), oxygen (green), and hydrogen (blue).Credits: NASA, ESA, B. Balick (University of Washington), M. Guerrero (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía), and G. Ramos-Larios (Universidad de Guadalajara)

Stingray nebula in 2016
This image shows the planetary nebula Hen 3-1357, nicknamed the Stingray nebula, captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in January 2016. This image of the Stingray nebula shows it has changed drastically in brightness and shape when compared to its first portrait by Hubble in 1996. When comparing the imaging, researchers discovered unprecedented changes in the light emitted by glowing nitrogen (shown in red), hydrogen (blue), and oxygen (green) being blasted off by the dying star at the center of the nebula.Credits: NASA, ESA, B. Balick (University of Washington), M. Guerrero (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía), and G. Ramos-Larios (Universidad de Guadalajara)

Images captured by Hubble in 2016, when compared to Hubble images taken in 1996, show a nebula that has drastically dimmed in brightness and changed shape. Bright, blue, fluorescent tendrils and filaments of gas toward the center of the nebula have all but disappeared, and the wavy edges that earned this nebula its aquatic-themed name are virtually gone. The young nebula no longer pops against the black velvet background of the vast universe.

“This is very, very dramatic, and very weird,” said team member Martín A. Guerrero of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía in Granada, Spain. “What we’re witnessing is a nebula’s evolution in real time. In a span of years, we see variations in the nebula. We have not seen that before with the clarity we get with this view.”

Researchers discovered unprecedented changes in the light emitted by glowing nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen being blasted off by the dying star at the center of the nebula. The oxygen emission, in particular, dropped in brightness by a factor of nearly 1,000 between 1996 and 2016.

“Changes in nebulae have been seen before, but what we have here are changes in the fundamental structure of the nebula,” said Bruce Balick of the University of Washington, Seattle, leader of the new research. “In most studies, the nebula usually gets bigger. Here, it’s fundamentally changing its shape and getting fainter, and doing so on an unprecedented time scale. Moreover, to our surprise, it’s not growing any larger. Indeed, the once-bright inner elliptical ring seems to be shrinking as it fades.”

Ground-based observations of other planetary nebulae have shown hints of changes in brightness over time, but those speculations haven’t been confirmed until now. Only Hubble can resolve the changes in structure in this tiny nebula. The new paper examines every image of the Stingray nebula from Hubble’s archives.

“Because of Hubble’s optical stability, we are very, very confident that this nebula is changing in brightness with time,” added Guerrero. “This is something that can only be confirmed with Hubble’s visual acuity.”

The researchers note the nebula’s rapid changes are a response to its central star, SAO 244567, expanding due to a temperature drop, and in turn emitting less ionizing radiation.

2016 study by Nicole Reindl, now of the University of Potsdam, Germany, and a team of international researchers, also using Hubble data, noted the star at the center of the Stingray nebula, SAO 244567, is special in its own right.

Observations from 1971 to 2002 showed the temperature of the star skyrocketing from less than 40,000 to 108,000 degrees Fahrenheit, more than ten times hotter than the surface of our Sun. Now, Reindl and her research team has shown that SAO 245567 is cooling. Reindl speculates the temperature jump was caused by a brief flash of helium fusion that occurred in a shell around the core of the central star. Recently, the star appears to be backstepping into its early stage of stellar evolution.

“We’re very lucky to observe it just in that moment,” said Reindl. “During such a helium shell flash, it evolves very quickly, and that implies short evolutionary timescales, so we can’t usually see how these stars evolve. We just happened to be there at the right time to have caught that.”

The team studying the rapid fading of the Stingray nebula can only speculate at this time what’s in store for the future of this young nebula. At its present rates of fading, it’s estimated the nebula will barely be detectable in 20 or 30 years.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.

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Joel O'Bryan
December 5, 2020 2:24 am

A helium shell flash is quite entertaining…
Like that charcoal lighter stream on a low fire… fun for a few seconds and then gone.
Stingray Neb is something like 18,000 lightyears away and deep in the Southern Hemisphere at a dec of about -59.5º. Not a good object to look for.

December 5, 2020 4:07 am

Didnt the models predict this behaviour?

Rich Davis
Reply to  björn
December 5, 2020 5:01 am

It seems that they had too many SUVs back a few decades ago, and that really caused a lot of catastrophic nebular warming. But fortunately the deathocrats “won” an election by the most advanced voting fraud system in nebular history, and now the economy has almost gone completely dark.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Rich Davis
December 5, 2020 4:41 pm

Now, now.

Biden obviously had a lot of “hidden” voters.

Hidden in suitcases under a table, apparently.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Mike McMillan
December 6, 2020 5:29 am

Not sure where you see a connection to the President-Select, Mike. I was only explaining what happened in that nebula. 😉

December 5, 2020 4:14 am

“… have caught a rare look at a rapidly fading shroud of gas around an aging star.” Thought you were talking about that fading gasbag Joe Biden for a second…

My American friends, I hope you understand what is happening to you. Some do, most don’t – sheep to the slaughter.

It’s ALL a Marxist-Democrat scam – false enviro-hysteria including the Climate and Green-Energy frauds, the full-Gulag lockdown for Covid-19, paid-and-planned protests by Antifa and BLM, AND NOW the mail-in ballot US election scam – it’s all false.

We published that the Climate-and-Green-Energy scare was a false narrative in 2002, and by 2009 I wrote that there was a covert agenda, Now the radical greens are admitting that “Global Warming aka Climate Change and Green Energy” was false propaganda, a smokescreen for their neo-Marxist objectives – see recent statements from environmentalist Michael Schellenberger, from Saikat Chakrabarti, former chief of staff for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the latest movie trashing green energy scams from Michael Moore, “Planet of the Humans”.

I called Covid-19 correctly on 21March2020 – NO LOCKDOWN! Covid-19 was a relatively mild flu except for the very elderly and infirm. Covid-19 is less dangerous than seasonal flu’s of recent decades that nobody remembers – the full-Gulag lockdown was not just a huge over-reaction, it was a WHO-led scam.

The UN, the WHO, the IMF and the World Economic Forum (WEF) are using the Covid-19 false crisis to reshape the global economy into their neo-Marxist model, “the Great Reset”.

In October 2019, Event 201, sponsored by the WEF, the Bill Gates Fdn, etc. simulated a global coronavirus pandemic.
Just months later a relatively mild Wuhan-lab-manufactured coronavirus flu was overblown into a false global pandemic, promoted by the WHO into an economy-destroying global lockdown.

The Covid-19 lockdown enabled the huge mail-in vote, where the Dems produced millions of false ballots. All the pieces of the puzzle were in place.

The radical green objective is to destroy prosperity and move the USA to a planned Marxist economy – essentially a few rich at the top looking down on all the peasants – that describes most countries, and the USA is next if Biden wins.

We stand at the abyss. If Biden wins, it will be the end of freedom. Europe and Canada have already fallen far down that “poverty road to Venezuela”. If America falls, there will be nowhere left to run to.

December 5, 2020 5:06 am

This video provides more detail on the Covid-19 lockdown scam.

December 5, 2020 9:40 am

This video provides more detail on the Covid-19 lockdown scam.

Listen to David E. Martin starting at 5:59

Keep in mind that Covid-19 is a MILD flu except for the very elderly and infirm – several flu’s in recent decades (that nobody remembers) have been much more deadly.

“I would remind you all that using the province’s own statistics, the risk of death under 65 in this province is one in 300,000. One in 300,000. You’ve got to get a grip on this.”
– Dr. Roger Hodkinson, MA, MB, FRCPC, FCAP, CEO and medical director of Western Medical Assessments, speaking at the Edmonton City Council Community and Public Services Committee meeting on Nov. 13, 2020 about the city’s move to extend its face-covering bylaw.

Alberta has a population of ~4 million. One in 300,000 is a total of 13 deaths in Alberta under 65 years of age attributed to Covid-19 – be very frightened – lock down the workforce, kill the economy and destroy small businesses, young people and the poor – this is a scam concocted by wolves to stampede the sheep. Told you so, eight months ago.

I called it correctly on 21March2020 – NO LOCKDOWN! Covid-19 was a relatively mild flu except for the very elderly and infirm. Covid-19 is less dangerous to the general public than flu’s of recent decades that nobody remembers – the FULL lockdown was a huge over-reaction – at best, it was utter incompetence.

Sweden correctly did not impose the full lockdown and had low death rates and is now at or near herd immunity and DID NOT DESTROY ITS ECONOMY.

I am concerned with the wellbeing of the elderly, but I reject the current practice of harming the young to safeguard us old folks – we should maintain our distance and everyone else should get back to school and work.

The Covid-19 lockdown did enormous harm and little if any good – it was a total debacle – I told you so, eight months ago.



Isolate people over sixty-five and those with poor immune systems and return to business-as-usual for people under sixty-five.
This will allow “herd immunity” to develop much sooner and older people will thus be more protected AND THE ECONOMY WON’T CRASH.


This full-lockdown scenario is especially hurting service sector businesses and their minimum-wage employees – young people are telling me they are “financially under the bus”. The young are being destroyed to protect us over-65’s. A far better solution is to get them back to work and let us oldies keep our distance, and get “herd immunity” established ASAP – in months not years. Then we will all be safe again.

Regards, Allan MacRae

December 6, 2020 8:36 pm

The Alberta Government has been utterly fooled, duped by this false politically-driven Covid-19 crisis – Wake up, face reality, and end this destructive Covid-19 lockdown – now!

This remarkable video published 5December2020 by Alberta health care workers is consistent with my publications of March and April 2020.

My Summary published in April 2020:

Here in Alberta, the Covid-19 lock-down has resulted a debacle.

Most of our deaths are in nursing homes – our policy seems to be “Lockdown the low-risk majority but fail to adequately protect the most vulnerable.”

The global data for Covid-19 suggests that deaths/infections will total 0.5% or less – not that scary – but much higher and clearly dangerous for the high-risk group – those over-65 or with serious existing health problems.

“Elective” surgeries were cancelled about mid-March 2020, in order to make space available for the “tsunami” of Covid-19 cases that never happened. Operating rooms are empty and medical facilities and medical teams are severely underutilized. The backlog of surgeries will only be cleared with extraordinary effort by medical teams, and the cooperation of patients who die awaiting surgery – patients who were too impatient…

This may look like 20:20 hindsight, but I called it this way in ~mid-March.

Regards, Allan

December 6, 2020 11:59 pm


As many have now observed, lockdowns have a host of deadly consequences. For example, British journalist and businessman Matt Ridley writes, “They cause more deaths from cancer, heart disease and suicide as well as job losses, bankruptcies, social disintegration and mental illness especially among the young, who are at least risk from the virus.” Further, a recent UNICEF report limns a “shadow pandemic” of violence against women and children, with vital services to these vulnerable groups being among the most commonly disrupted. The World Health Organization has said that lockdowns should not be “the primary means of control of this virus,” noting a lockdown consequence too frequently overlooked this year: “making poor people an awful lot poorer.”

Barnes Moore
December 5, 2020 5:44 am

It’s been going on longer than that.

Just over sixty years ago since Russia’s Krushchev delivered his message to the UN; … prediction for America.

TV coverage of him banging his shoe on the podium. At that time, the word ‘communism’ was feared throughout our nation. Now here is some food for thought if it does not make us choke! Do you remember September 29, 1959? THIS WAS HIS ENTIRE QUOTE:
“Your children’s children will live under communism, You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept communism outright; but we will keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you will finally wake up and find you already have Communism. We will not have to fight you; We will so weaken your economy, until you will fall like overripe fruit into our hands.” “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”
Remember, socialism leads to Communism So, how do you create a Socialistic State?
There are 8 levels of control; read the following recipe.

1) Healthcare – Control healthcare and you control the people.
2) Poverty – Increase the poverty level as high as possible, poor people are easier to control and will not fight back if you are providing everything for them.
3) Debt – Increase the debt to an unsustainable level. That way you are able to increase taxes, and this will produce more poverty.
4) Gun Control – Remove the ability to defend themselves from the Government. That way, you are able to create a police state.
5) Welfare – Take control of every aspect (food, housing, income) of their lives because that will make them fully dependent on the government.
6) Education – Take control of what people read and listen to and take control of what children learn in school.
7) Religion – Remove the belief in God from the Government and schools because the people need to believe in ONLY the government knowing what is best for the people.
8) Class Warfare – Divide the people into the wealthy and the poor. Eliminate the middle class. This will cause more discontent and it will be easier to tax the wealthy with the support of the poor.

Reply to  Barnes Moore
December 5, 2020 9:22 pm

Thank you Barnes – all correct.

Eric Worrall wrote:
“Frankly I don’t see a case for radical global land use change and massive government intervention, as the IPCC seems to be advocating.”

That is correct Eric – thank you.
But this “climate emergency” fraud has never been about the climate.

Jul 04, 2019
By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng.

1. Introduction.

Ever wonder why extremists attack honest scientists who oppose global warming and climate change hysteria? Ever wonder why climate extremists refuse to debate the science?

It is because global warming and climate change alarmism was never about the science – it was always a false narrative, a smokescreen for the totalitarian objectives of the extreme left.

The novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, written by George Orwell in 1949, foresaw a time “when much of the world has fallen victim to perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, historical negationism and propaganda”. It now appears that Orwell had remarkable foresight.

Here is the real “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, an interview that year with ex-KGB officer and Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov, who described their long-term program to ideologically undermine the western democracies. Jump to 1:07:30 for Bezmenov’s discussion of “ideological subversion”. It is all about manipulating the “useful idiots” – the pro-Soviet leftists within the democracies.

One commenter on the video wrote: “this is crazy, almost everything predicted by this guy is already happening.” Bernie Sanders, AOC and other socialist-Democrats are openly saying what Bezmenov predicted decades ago. The last democracies are under attack by leftist extremists.

All over the world, countries that once had a future have fallen into dictatorship, poverty and misery. It is notable that of the ~167 large countries in the world, most are totalitarian states, and all but “the chosen few” citizens of these countries suffer under brutal leftist dictatorships.

Radical greens have used wildly exaggerated stories of runaway global warming and climate change to stampede the gullible, in order to achieve their political objectives. The greens claim to be pro-environment, but their policies have done enormous environmental damage. Radical greens have also been destructive to humanity, causing millions of deaths.

The 1984 interview with Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov has been censored by YouTube as “Hate speech”, which it definitely is NOT.

I have applied to YouTube to have it reinstated, but in the meantime a shorter version is available at

Thank you, Allan

December 5, 2020 10:10 am

You sure woke up cranky this morning, Allan. Not entirely without cause…

The Canadian federal government’s CoVid-era deficit spending of $380 Billion in the past one year, or $40,000 per household. It will be paid for out of future income taxes, inflation eroding the value of savings accounts, capital gains taxes on the inflated dollar value of future property sales, printing new money for the chartered banks to loan out and the taxes on the resulting business profits, and comparative valuation of the C$ to the US$. Don’t worry, the government has it under control, it’s only 10 times historic maximum levels. No need to be cranky, its only one year…

Reply to  DMacKenzie
December 5, 2020 10:04 pm

Trudeau is following the Zimbabwe/Venezuela recipe – popular all over the third world:
The would-be dictator gets elected by promising a lot of free stuff – then squanders money especially on internal corruption (payments to self and cronies) until the currency tanks, runaway inflation follows, and then he uses the economic chaos to install himself as dictator-for life (Président à Vie).

I’ve done major business on six continents and I’ve seen the play many times – nice people and terrible governments, a few corrupt princes at the top looking down on all the poor peasants.

I cannot believe that generations of our men fought, bled and died so this corrupt POS could run this once-great country into the sewer.

December 6, 2020 4:04 am




“Since it made its entry on to the world stage, COVID-19 has torn up the existing script of how to govern countries, live with others, and take part in the global economy in a dramatic way.”

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has assured the elites of the World Economic Forum (WEF) that a Joe Biden presidency would quickly advance the globalist “Great Reset” agenda “with greater speed and greater intensity than many might imagine.”


December 7, 2020 1:32 am

The World Economic Forum’s twitter account deleted the tweet in which this video was originally embedded in 2016.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
December 6, 2020 1:31 am


December 5, 2020 5:28 am

I just noticed this on the Hubble web site 20 minutes ago and just finished writing this note on a conservative blog site:

Follow the Science

Hubble Captures Unprecedented Fading of Stingray Nebula

At the exact same time, C02 emissions increase here on earth.

Coincidence? I think not. Does anyone have Michael Mann’s phone number?

Gary Ashe
December 5, 2020 5:55 am

Witnessing such a swift rate of change in a planetary nebula is exceeding rare, say researchers.

Exceedingly….. that will be 100 guineas please.

December 5, 2020 7:00 am

Can they please express this in an audio version. Pink Floyd will incorporate it in their next release “Dark Side of the Universe” and back it up with their earlier release of the 8 minute version of “Dark Side of the Moon”. It will be an astronomical impact in the music industry! A new term will be cast: Unparalleled Fidelity Observations (UFO)!

December 5, 2020 10:48 am

“Because of Hubble’s optical stability, we are very, very confident that this nebula is changing in brightness with time,” added Guerrero. “This is something that can only be confirmed with Hubble’s visual acuity.”

but how confident those guys are about the model processing stability in the light of potential adjustments and potential upgrades of it over 2 decades?!

How confident are they about this, plus the stability of the ever growing amount of 2D data to be processed over the last 2 decades, in the consideration of
a 3D environment (object)?!

Maybe this questionable points don’t matter, but just asking.


Tom Abbott
December 5, 2020 12:52 pm

As I always feel compelled to say when Hubble produces new knowledge, the Hubble Telescope is worth every penny we spent on it.

I remember the dark days when Hubble was first launched and all of us had such high hopes for it, and then we found that the optics were ground wrong and it was giving us distorted pictures.

And then a couple of years later the Space Shuttle visited Hubble and the astronauts fixed the optics and it has been a fantastic instrument since that time living up to all our expectations.

A lot of people worked very hard to make this happen. We should not take Hubble for granted.

David Blenkinsop
December 5, 2020 11:48 pm

It certainly looks peculiar for an entire nebula to dim down like this.

Would the last starship captain to leave the Stingray Nebula please turn out the lights completely?

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