It seems that even the Universe has a romantic side. The planetary nebula Sh2-174 gives the appearance of a red rose – or maybe a tulip – but is actually the remains of a dying star some 1,000 light years away.

Astronomers released the image yesterday on the eve of Valentine’s Day. A planetary nebula is created when a low-mass star blows off its outer layers at the end of its life.

The core of the star remains and becomes an immensely dense white dwarf.

Usually the white dwarf is found right at the heart of the nebula, but in the case of Sh2-174 it is shifted to one side. (PA)

Gay animals ‘snubbed’

TV wildlife expert Sir David Attenborough has been blasted for ignoring gay animals, UK tabloid The Sun has reported.

Media studies lecturer Dr Brett Mills says homosexuality is “in pretty much every species”.

But he claims Sir David’s BBC documentaries focus on family values in animals and shun “alternative interpretations”.

Sir David, 86, described male chimps hugging as “friendly affection”, while male sandpiper birds filmed circling each other were simply being “aggressive”. (PA)

Coolest prize ever awarded

Six contestants have braved numbing cold and boredom to win an annual ice pole-sitting contest in northern Sweden.

Two women and four men shared the 20,000-kronor prize (€2,255) for remaining on eight-foot-tall blocks of ice during the 48-hour contest.

Competitors said the worst part of the competition was not the cold – temperatures dipped below -18F (-28C) – but the monotony, even though they were each allowed to come down from the blocks for 10-minute toilet breaks every other hour. (PA)

City council’s dirty trick

An Israeli woman has turned to Facebook to beat a parking ticket – and expose a Tel Aviv road crew.

Hila Ben Baruch said she parked her car legally near her home only to find it gone and replaced with a disabled parking sign. City Hall fined her more than €220 and she said an official accused her of lying when she complained.

She obtained footage from a security camera showing council workers painting the disabled symbol under her car, then towing the vehicle away. The video, put on Facebook, has gone viral. The city council has apologised and refunded the fines. (PA)

Richard III’s tomb design

A first glimpse at how King Richard III’s tomb could look has been provided by supporters of the last Plantagenet monarch.

The Richard III Society has unveiled computer-generated images of the tomb, which it hopes will be the final resting place of the king.

They show a tomb measuring about 7ft and made from honey-coloured magnesian limestone, incorporating the white rose of York and inscriptions wrought in stone and on a metal plaque.

The society’s designs were commissioned in 2010 by group member Philippa Langley, who led the Looking For Richard Project. King Richard’s remains were dug up in a car park in Leicester last year.

He was the last English monarch to fall in battle, and was killed in the Battle of Bos­worth Field in 1485, ending the Wars of the Roses. (AP)

Greeks do it their way

Greek MPs are fuming over colleagues who openly flout the country’s anti-smoking laws in the very building where the statutes were passed.

A cross-party group of 88 has complained to the Parliament Speaker, urging action against a “pathetic and infuriating” state of affairs. Greece has one of the European Union’s highest smoking rates. It introduced a strict law in 2010 to outlaw smoking in enclosed public areas, backed with fines of up to €500.

It was the third anti-smoking law passed in recent years, but people still light up freely in bars, cafes, restaurants – and Parliament. (PA)

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