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Helix Nebula

The Helix nebula

In astronomy, the Helix Nebula is one of the closest planetary nebulae to Earth.

It lies 140 parsecs or 450 light-years from Earth in the Aquarius constellation and has an angular diameter of about 0.5°.

Notes on the picture

The Helix Nebula is an example of a planetary nebula created at the end of the life of a Sun-like star. The outer gasses of the star expelled into space appear from our vantage point as if we are looking down a helix. The remnant central stellar core, destined to become a white dwarf star, glows in light so energetic it causes the previously expelled gas to fluoresce. The Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) lies about 650 light-years away towards the constellation of Aquarius and spans about 2.5 light-years. The above picture is a composite of newly released images from the ACS instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope and wide-angle images from the Mosaic Camera on the WIYN 0.9-m Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory.
(Text courtesy of NASA)