The detected lines cannot be explained by spontaneous radiation.
An international team of astrophysicists have discovered a giant space laser in the nebula, the Ant. Such astrophysical object is quite unusual because it has the attributes of planetary nebulae, physical conditions which are not suitable for emission of coherent photons. The scientific results published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The text of the article can be found in the repository of the arXiv preprints.
A nebula is an Ant or Menzel 3 (Mz 3) is a planetary nebula with a complex structure, which is in the constellation of the Square and refers to the bipolar, i.e., has the form of two blades. Its exact origin is still unknown, but some scientists believe that in the centre of the nebula is a symbiotic double star, one component of which is increasingly concentrated in the substance of the other. Thus, Mz 3 is intermediate between a young planetary nebula and the double star as it has distinctive features of both objects.
The data obtained using the Herschel Space Observatory, have shown that in the spectrum of Menzel 3 12 are recombination lines of hydrogen that are found in the range from infrared to submillimeter wavelengths. These lines arise in quantum transitions between States vysokopatogennym recombined hydrogen when just caught by the hydrogen ion, the electrons begin to jump on a less energetic orbit and emit photons.
As the scientists write, the brightest recombination lines are very unusual for planetary nebulae, the spectrum of which is mainly observed forbidden spectral lines corresponding to the unlikely transitions of electrons. Thus, the detected lines cannot be explained by spontaneous emission, which emit a thin gas cloud planetary nebulae.
However, this relationship of intensities of spectral lines were observed in object MWC 349A HRL — massive double (or probably triple) stars, which is a natural space laser, that is a source of coherent photons. As Menzel 3, it is surrounded by a bipolar nebula, generated by the flow of gas and the dense disk in the center. A source of laser radiation is vysokoorganizovannaja (due to the intense x-ray radiation) the surface at the edge of the gas disk. The researchers came to the conclusion that the Ant nebula, which has a similar structure and physical conditions is also a giant laser.