MPIA-HD, BIRKLE, SLAWIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MPIA-HD, BIRKLE, SLAWIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Dumbbell Nebula. Optical image of the Dumbbell planetary nebula (M27, NGC 6853). This has nothing to do with a planet. It is actually a shell of gas ejected from a star near the end of its life. The star then becomes a white dwarf (not seen), and its radiation causes the ejected gas layers to glow. It is thought that the gas layers seen here were ejected from the central star around 4000 years ago. This planetary nebula lies around 1000 light years from Earth in the constellation Vulpecula.
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