JERRY LODRIGUSS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JERRY LODRIGUSS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Dumbbell planetary nebula (M27, NGC 6853), a shell of expanding glowing dust and gas. A planetary nebula forms when material is ejected from a star near the end of its life. Our Sun will undergo the same process. The central star (hidden inside the nebula) ionizes the material, causing it to glow. M27's central star is an extremely hot dwarf star that creates these colours in the different types of chemical elements in the nebula. The material of the nebula will be rich in the material needed to form future stars and planets. M27 is 1.5 light years across, and lies around 850 light years away in the constellation Vulpecula.
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