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CCD optical image of the Helix nebula NGC 7293

CCD optical image of the Helix nebula NGC 7293

R700/0105

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Credit

MOUNT STROMLO AND SIDING SPRING OBSERVATORIES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MOUNT STROMLO AND SIDING SPRING OBSERVATORIES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Helix planetary nebula. Enhanced optical image of the Helix planetary nebula (NGC 7293). This is the nearest planetary nebula to Earth, lying about 450 light years away in the constellation Aquarius. Planetary nebulae are poorly named, as they have no association with either planets or nebulae. Instead, they consist of shells of gas ejected from the surface of a dying star. This is ionised by radiation from the star, causing it to glow. Their erroneous name arose from their appearance through early telescopes. This image was produced by a CCD (charge-coupled device) camera, which stores images electronically rather than on film.

Release details

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