Lately, much has been said about the use of space lasers for a variety of purposes, from clearing space debris to power transmission and communication, to powering spacecraft using lightsails. All of these concepts are about sending lasers from Earth or other human objects already in space into space. But now we've met lasers from outer space that humans had nothing to do with except, well, watch them.
No, this is not the work of aliens that give us clues to their existence. Instead, this natural phenomenon occurred in a known planetary nebula, Mz 3, commonly known as the ant nebula, given its shape, which resembles the ordinary garden variety. The approximately 8,000 light-years distant ant nebula was discovered in the 1
Planetary nebulae like Mz 3 emerge when stars of low to medium weight, like our sun, near the end to white dwarfs become their lives. Before this phase, they are red giants, into which the sun is transformed in about 5 billion years and which, over time, lose their outer layers of gas and dust. The stripped gas and dust often take on fantastic and breathtaking forms, and these structures are called planetary nebulae.
"When we observe Menzel 3, we see an amazingly complicated structure of ionized gas, but we can not see the object in its center producing this pattern," said Isabel Aleman, lead author of a paper describing the new findings , in a statement Wednesday. "Thanks to the sensitivity and broad wavelength range of the Herschel Observatory, we have discovered a very rare type of emission, called the laser emission of the hydrogen recombination line, which reveals the structure and physical conditions of the nebula." 
Ant's fog was observed in the infrared with the European Space Agency's (ESA) Space Telescope Herschel, and its laser emissions are among the few known cases. It needs very dense gas nearby The observations showed that the laser-emitting gas had a 10,000-fold greater density than the lobes of the ant-mist and other typical planetary nebulae.
This unusual density of gas gave the scientists an indication of the star presence of a companion of the white dwarf in the center of the ant nebula. Normally, gas is thrown away from the star and the immediate vicinity of the star – in this case the distance between the Sun and Saturn – is empty. Any fading gas would fall back to the star. The only way to have dense gas around the star was when the gravity of another star would steer him in that direction, keeping him in a disc-shaped orbit around the white dwarf. The accompanying star, which also died, has not yet been discovered.
"This study suggests that the characteristic ant's fog as we see it today was created by the complex nature of a binary star system that affects shape, chemical properties, and evolution in these final stages of a star's life," said Göran Pilbratt , Herschel project scientist of the ESA, in the statement.
The article was published online Wednesday in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, under the title "Herschel Planetary Nebula Survey (HerPlaNS): Hydrogen Recombination Laser Lines in Mz 3"