NATIONAL OPTICAL ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORIES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NATIONAL OPTICAL ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORIES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Dumbbell planetary nebula (M27, NGC 6853), optical filtered image. A planetary nebula forms when gas is ejected from a star near the end of its life. The star ionizes the gas, which emits radiation of specific wavelengths. Three of these wavelengths were selected and colour-coded to form this image: hydrogen (red), doubly ionized oxygen (green) and neutral oxygen (blue). M27 is 1.5 light years wide and lies around 850 light years away in the constellation Vulpecula. Image taken by the 3.5- metre WIYN telescope, Kitt Peak, Arizona, USA.
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