EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Medusa Nebula, optical image. This remnant of a planetary nebula is also known as Abell 21 and Sharpless 2-274. A planetary nebula is an expanding glowing shell of gas that forms when changes in a star near the end of its life causes its outer layers to be blown violently outwards. The Medusa Nebula is around 1500 light years from Earth, in the constellation of Gemini. This image was obtained with the FORS2 (Focal Reducer and Low Dispersion Spectrograph) instrument on the ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. Image released in May 2015.
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