The Double Helix Nebula
- uploaded: Sep 5, 2008
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The Double Helix Nebula is a gaseous nebula near the center of our galaxy. It is thought to have been distorted by magnetic torsion into the shape of two connected spirals, known popularly as a double helix, akin to the shape of DNA.
The nebula was discovered by the Spitzer Space Telescope. The segment seen so far is thought to be 80 light years long, 300 light years from the supermassive black hole thought to be at the galaxy's center, and 25,000 light years from Earth.
This nebula is seen as circumstantial evidence that the magnetic fields at the center of the galaxy are extremely strong, more than 1,000 times stronger than those of the Sun. If so, they may be driven by the massive disc of gas orbiting the central supermassive black hole. These magnetic fields have been interpreted as possible evidence supporting an alternative theory of black hole structure called the magnetospheric eternally collapsing object.