Astronomy Picture of the Day

The Helix Nebula from Blanco and Hubble

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#62146 by @ 30.12.2004 00:00 - nach oben -
The Helix Nebula from Blanco and Hubble

How did a star create the
Helix nebula?

The shapes of
planetary nebula like the
Helix are important because they
likely hold clues to how stars like the
Sun end their lives.

Recent observations by the orbiting
Hubble Space Telescope and the
4-meter Blanco Telescope in
Chile, however, have shown the Helix is not really a
simple helix.

Rather, it incorporates two nearly perpendicular disks as well as arcs, shocks, and even
features not well understood.

Even so, many strikingly geometric symmetries remain.

How a single Sun-like star created such beautiful yet
geometric complexity is a topic of research.

The Helix Nebula is the nearest
planetary nebula to Earth, lies only about 700
light years away toward the constellation of Aquarius, and spans about 3 light-years.

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