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IT’S NOT JUST IN YOUR MIND!

Death of a star give rise to Helix Nebula

A mere seven hundred light years from Earth, in the constellation Aquarius, a sun-like star is dying.

Its last few thousand years have produced the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293), a well studied and nearby example of a Planetary Nebula, typical of this final phase of stellar evolution. A total of 58 hours of exposure time … shows remarkable details of the Helix’s brighter inner region, about 3 light-years across, but also follows fainter outer halo features that give the nebula a span of well over six light-years.

The white dot at the Helix’s center is this Planetary Nebula’s hot, central star. A simple looking nebula at first glance, the Helix is now understood to have a surprisingly complex geometry.

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