UCLA astronomer Mark Morris and colleagues found a new nebula that looks like the double helix of DNA.
Most nebulae are "formless, amorphous conglomerations of dust and gas," Morris said in a statement, adding that this one "indicates a high degree of order."
The strands of the nebula may be torqued by twisted magnetic fields at the Milky Way's center, Morris said by telephone.
These magnetic fields are indirectly spawned by the gaping black hole at the galactic heart, he said. Black holes are massive matter-sucking drains in space, pulling in everything around them so powerfully that not even light can escape.