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The strange structures of the Saturn nebula

Bringing some of the mysteries of the universe a little closer to home.

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Owlscrying
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Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2017 3:21 am

Unread post Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:51 pm

The spectacular planetary nebula NGC 7009, or the Saturn Nebula, emerges from the darkness like a series of oddly-shaped bubbles, lit up in glorious pinks and blues. This colourful image was captured by the MUSE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). The map—which reveals a wealth of intricate structures in the dust, including shells, a halo and a curious wave-like feature—will help astronomers understand how planetary nebulae develop their strange shapes and symmetries.

The Saturn Nebula is located approximately 5000 light years away in the constellation of Aquarius (The Water Bearer). Its name derives from its odd shape, which resembles everyone's favourite ringed planet seen edge-on.

But in fact, planetary nebulae have nothing to do with planets. The Saturn Nebula was originally a low-mass star, which expanded into a red giant at the end of its life and began to shed its outer layers. This material was blown out by strong stellar winds and energised by ultraviolet radiation from the hot stellar core left behind, creating a circumstellar nebula of dust and brightly-coloured hot gas. At the heart of the Saturn Nebula lies the doomed star, visible in this image, which is in the process of becoming a white dwarf.

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Owlscrying
Posts: 1849
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2017 3:21 am

Unread post Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:52 pm

Image
Credit: ESO/J. Walsh

The spectacular planetary nebula NGC 7009, or the Saturn Nebula, emerges from the darkness like a series of oddly-shaped bubbles, lit up in glorious pinks and blues. This colorful image was captured by the powerful MUSE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), as part of a study which mapped the dust inside a planetary nebula for the first time.

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Owlscrying
Posts: 1849
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2017 3:21 am

Unread post Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:53 pm



The spectacular planetary nebula NGC 7009, or the Saturn Nebula, emerges from the darkness like a series of oddly-shaped bubbles, lit up in glorious pinks and blues.

This colourful image was captured by the powerful MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), as part of a study which mapped the dust inside a planetary nebula for the first time.

 
Image

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