The planetary nebula NGC 2440, captured in dazzling detail in this new Hubble Space Telescope image, was once a star much like our Sun.
By Becky Ferreira | MOTHERBOARD
But after billions of years of steady output, this solar twin ran out of hydrogen fuel, and started blowing itself up episodically in a spectacular series of pulse-like blasts. Any life that might have evolved on planets orbiting the star would have been vaporized as it died, leaving behind only its white dwarf shell, with its searing temperatures of 360,000 degrees Fahrenheit (200,000 degrees Celsius), and a surrounding cloud of kicked up dust and gas.
Fortunately, NGC 2440 is located over 4,000 light years away from Earth, so its self-destruct sequence poses no threat to life here at home.