Hubble images a colorful planetary nebula surrounded by a hazy halo



The colorful planetary nebula, NGC 2438, appears to be on the outskirts of the open star cluster, M46 (NGC 2437). The nebula is actually in the foreground between us and the star cluster. Credits: NASA, ESA, K. Knoll (NASA Goddard), S. Öttl (Leopold Franzens Universität Innsbruck), et. al., and DSS; Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA / Catholic University of America)

NGC 2438 is a planetary nebula, formed after the death of a star similar to the Sun. The medium-sized star is said to have expelled its outer layers of gas into space upon its death, leaving behind a white dwarf core. A halo of glowing gas more than 4.5 light years in diameter surrounds the nebula’s brightest inner ring. Many round or nearly round planetary nebulae exhibit these halo structures, and astronomers have studied how they evolve. NGC 2438 was one of the nebulae studied, and the researchers found that the nebula’s halo glows because of ionizing radiation from the central white dwarf.

In this colorful image, blue represents oxygen (O III), green is hydrogen (H-alpha), orange is nitrogen (N II), and red is sulfur (S II).

This image from the Hubble Space Telescope was captured by the Hubble Wide-Field Planetary Camera 2, giving it its distinctive staircase shape. One of the camera’s four detectors offered an enlarged view, which would be scaled down in the final image to match the other three, creating the unique shape.


Image: Hubble spies the eye in the sky


Provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Quote: Hubble images of colorful planetary nebula surrounded by hazy halo (2021, November 4) retrieved December 6, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-11-hubble-images-planetary-nebula-hazy.html

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