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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Visit the NASA/JPL website to view more Astronomy Pictures of the Day

Planetary Nebula Project
Credit & Copyright: J-P Metsävainio (Astro Anarchy)

Explanation: Cast off by dying sunlike stars, planetary nebulae are a brief but glorious final phase of stellar evolution. The gaseous shrouds are ionized by an extremely hot central source, the shrinking core of a star running out of fuel for nuclear fusion. Shining in the cosmic night, their simple symmetries are fascinating and have inspired this planetary nebula poster project. In it, nine planetaries are displayed for comparison in a 3×3 grid. Of course, planetary nebula fans should be able to pick out the bright Messier objects M27 – the Dumbbell Nebula, M76 – the Little Dumbbell, and M57 – the Ring Nebula, as well as NGC 6543, aka the Cat’s Eye Nebula. Lesser known nebulae include the Medusa and theBug. All the images were made with detailed narrow band data and are shown at the same angular scale, spanning 20 arc minutes (1/3 degree). At that scale, the grey circle represents the apparent size of the Full Moon. These planetary nebulae hint at the fate of our own Sun as its core runs out of nuclear fuel in another 5 billion years.

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