Astronomy Picture of the Day



The Medusa Nebula

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#104803 by @ 24.11.2007 00:00 - nach oben -
The Medusa Nebula


Explanation:

Braided, serpentine filaments of glowing gas
suggest this nebula's popular name, The Medusa Nebula.

Also known as Abell 21, this Medusa is an old
planetary nebula
some 1,500 light-years away in the constellation
Gemini.

Like its mythological
namesake, the nebula is associated
with a dramatic transformation.

The planetary
nebula
phase represents a final stage in
the
evolution
of low mass stars
like the sun,
as they transform themselves from red giants to hot white dwarf
stars and in the process shrug off their outer layers.

Ultraviolet href="http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/ems1.html">radiation
from the hot star powers the nebular glow.

The Medusa's transforming hot central star is visible in the
detailed
color image
as the small blue star within the upper
half of the overall bright
crescent
shape
.

Fainter filaments clearly extend above and to
the left of the bright crescent region.

The Medusa Nebula is estimated to be over 4 light-years across.




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