Helix nebula

Helix nebula

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Credit: EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Helix nebula (NGC 7293). This is a planetary nebula, a set of dust shells cast off by a star towards the end of its life. The Helix nebula comprises at least two disc-shaped shells, oriented nearly at right angles to each other. How such a shape was formed remains a mystery. The gas glows as it is ionised by radiation from the star that ejected it. Oxygen atoms glow blue/green, while hydrogen and nitrogen glow red. The Helix nebula lies around 650 light years from Earth in the constellation Aquarius. Image taken using the Wide Field Imager (WFI) instrument at the 2.2-metre MPG/ESO telescope at the La Silla Observatory, Chile.

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Keywords: 2.2-metre mpg/eso telescope, aquarius, astronomical, astronomy, astrophysical, astrophysics, expanding, exploding, eye of god, gas, helix nebula, ionised, la silla observatory, planetary nebula, radiation, shell, shells, space, star, star death, stellar evolution, telescope, wfi, wide field imager

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