This is U Camelopardalis, a carbon star 1,500 light years away from Earth, in the constellation of the same name, near the North Celestial Pole. U Cam—as it is known—is at the end of its life, erupting layers of material from time to time:

Every few thousand years, U Cam coughs out a nearly spherical shell of gas as a layer of helium around its core begins to fuse. The gas ejected in the star's latest eruption is clearly visible in this picture as a faint bubble of gas surrounding the star.

So no, no proton torpedoes were involved in any of this.


Oh, and Hubble? I love you. [NASA]