From NASA/ESA Hubble: “Glowing, fiery shells of gas”

25 February 2013

It may look like something from The Lord of the Rings, but this fiery swirl is actually a planetary nebula known as ESO 456-67. Set against a backdrop of bright stars, the rust-coloured object lies in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer), in the southern sky.

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Planetary nebula ESO 456-67

When a star like the Sun approaches the end of its life, it flings material out into space. Planetary nebulae are the intricate, glowing shells of dust and gas pushed outwards from such a star. At their centres lie the remnants of the original stars themselves – small, dense white dwarf stars.

In this image of ESO 456-67 taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, it is possible to see the various layers of material expelled by the central star. Each appears in a different hue – red, orange, yellow and green-tinted bands of gas, with clear patches of space at the heart of the nebula.

See the original article here.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

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