ALMA image of HD101584. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Olofsson et al. Acknowledgement: Robert Cumming

These unusual kaleidoscopic gas clouds are the colourful consequence of a clash within binary system HD101584.

It shows the death of a large red giant star, which grew so big it engulfed a smaller star, causing it to spiral inwards and triggering the red giant to throw off its outer gas layer.

The two stars are in the single bright dot at the centre of the green ring-like structure.

The blue represents gas moving the fastest towards us, while the red is gas moving the fastest away.

Image stats

  • Observatory Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array,
  • Release date 5 February 2020
  • Image credit ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Olofsson et al. Acknowledgement: Robert Cumming


Jane Williamson science journalist and writer
Jane WilliamsonScience journalist

Jane Williamson is BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Production Editor.