Photo of the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) #18768


#18768 Photo of the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) by JVPD
Royalty-free astronomy stock photo of the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293), about 700 light-years away in the Aquarius constellation.

In Spitzer’s infrared view of the Helix nebula, the eye looks more like that of a green monster’s. Infrared light from the outer gaseous layers is represented in blues and greens. The white dwarf is visible as a tiny white dot in the center of the picture. The red color in the middle of the eye denotes the final layers of gas blown out when the star died.

The brighter red circle in the very center is the glow of a dusty disk circling the white dwarf (the disk itself is too small to be resolved). This dust, discovered by Spitzer’s infrared heat-seeking vision, was most likely kicked up by comets that survived the death of their star. Before the star died, its comets and possibly planets would have orbited the star in an orderly fashion. But when the star blew off its outer layers, the icy bodies and outer planets would have been tossed about and into each other, resulting in an ongoing cosmic dust storm. Any inner planets in the system would have burned up or been swallowed as their dying star expanded.

Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ.of Ariz [0003-0710-2308-3454] by 0003

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Keywords

aquarius, astronomy, helix nebula, in space, nasa, national aeronautics and space administration, nebula, outer space, planetary nebula, pn, space, universe


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