Rings Around the Ring Nebula


The Ring Nebula (M57), is more complicated than it appears through a small telescope. The easily visible central ring is about one light-year across, but this remarkably deep exposure – a collaborative effort combining data from three different large telescopes – explores the looping filaments of glowing gas extending much farther from the nebula‘s central star. This composite image includes red light emitted by hydrogen as well as visible and infrared light. The Ring Nebula is an elongated planetary nebula, a type of nebula created when a Sun-like star evolves to throw off its outer atmosphere to become a white dwarf star. The Ring Nebula is about 2,500 light-years away toward the musical constellation Lyra.

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