After a star like the Sun completes fusion
in its core, it throws off its outer layers in a brief,
beautiful cosmic display called a
NGC 3242 is such a planetary nebula,
with the stellar remnant white dwarf star
visible at the center.
This nebula is sometimes called The Ghost of Jupiter for its
faint, but similar appearance
to our solar system's ruling gas giant planet.
NGC 3242 is
light-years across however, and much farther away
than the measly 40 light-minutes distance to
In fact, while watching this ghostly nebula expand over time,
have estimated the distance to NGC 3242 to be about 1,400
The red FLIERs visible near the edges of the
nebula are still a bit mysterious, though.