Helix Nebula: HST/CTIO Image

Looks can be deceiving, especially when it comes to celestial objects like galaxies and nebulas. These objects are so far away that astronomers cannot see their three-dimensional structure. The Helix Nebula, for example, resembles a doughnut in colorful images. Earlier images of this complex object, the gaseous envelope ejected by a dying, sun-like star did not allow astronomers to precisely interpret its structure. One possible interpretation was that the Helix's form resembled a snake-like coil. Observations from several observatories, including NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, established that the Helix's structure is even more perplexing. Their evidence suggests that the Helix consists of two gaseous disks nearly perpendicular to each other.

Credit:

NASA, ESA, C.R. O'Dell (Vanderbilt University), and M. Meixner, P. McCullough, and G. Bacon ( Space Telescope Science Institute

)

About the Image

NASA press release
NASA caption
Id:opo0432b
Type:Observation
Release date:16 December 2004, 16:00
Size:4731 x 3129 px

About the Object

Name:Helix Nebula, IRAS 22267-2102, NGC 7293
Type:• Milky Way : Nebula : Type : Planetary
• X - Nebulae Images/Videos
Distance:700 light years
Constellation:Sagittarius

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
OIII
502 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Optical
H-alpha
658 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS

Notes: This image contains additional data captured by the Mosaic II Camera on the 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO).


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