Thursday, May 23, 2013

Real Shape of the Ring Nebula

Hey Space Placers!

An icon of astronomy for years, the famous Ring Nebula was recently photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and a ground based large ground based telescope in Arizona. The series of images, HST in visible light and the ground based telescope in infrared, were combined. The subsequent study of them shows more of a football shape than a true ring.

The Ring Nebula is a planetary nebula, a star with the mass of the Sun that ended its' life as a Red Giant star, blowing off shells of gas to reveal its' core where fusion took place for billions of years - a white dwarf star. The white dwarf is visible in the center of the Ring Nebula and is what causes the outer layers to be visible.

The layers were processed to reveal their composition with oxygen being green, hydrogen is red and helium is blue. The intense ultraviolet radiation makes them glow. The surface temperature of the white dwarf is at least 50,000 degrees F.

The Ring Nebula is visible in backyard telescopes and is located in the summer constellation of Lyra.

Sky Guy in Cicadas are calling VA

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