Hubble's greatest hits!Skip navigation



1. Grease monkeys in space

2. Some instamatic camera!

3. Image gallery

4. Quirky quasars

5. Spectacular spectrum

6. This star done gone

7. What's making these gamma rays?

8. Wheel of stars

9. Gaseous galaxy

10. Really northern lights

11. Ships do it

12. Demolition derby



  Stellar remainder sale
Hollow egg-shaped nebula with golden walls and hues of blue and purple gases.
Called a planetary nebula, this object has nothing to do with planets. Actually, it's the shell of gas 'n' associated crud emitted when the star at the center (the fainter of the two that are visible) shed its outer layers in powerful "stellar winds."

False colors in the image show hottest temperatures as blue and coolest in red. The "waistband" at the center is molecules from the ejected stuff that are condensing into the solid state. The band includes carbon, which one day could wind up in a solar system near you. This nebula is one-half light year across, and 2,000 light years distant.

Thinking long-term? Here's cause for concern: In six billion years or so, our sun will expand into a red giant star that fries all life on Earth. Then it will blow off its outer layers to make a planetary nebula of its own.




  The Why Files   There are 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 pages in this feature.
Bibliography | Credits | Feedback | Search

©2002, University of Wisconsin, Board of Regents.