GERARD LODRIGUSS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GERARD LODRIGUSS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
M97 (right) is a planetary nebula located in our own galaxy about 2,600 light years away. M108 (left) is a spiral galaxy located far outside our own galaxy. It just happens to lie near the same line of sight as M97, but is located about 45 million light years away. M97 has a visual brightness of about 10th magnitude and an apparent size of 3.4 x 3.3 arc minutes. It is about 3 times as large as the more famous Ring Nebula, M57, but much fainter because its inherent brightness is spread out over a larger area. Both M97 and M57 are planetary nebula, shells of gas blown off by their central stars late in their lifetimes. The central star in M97 is 16th magnitude and the nebula formed about 6,000 years ago. M108 has a visual brightness of about 10th.
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