Planetary Nebulae

The nebulae are being illuminated by light from the invisible central star, which is then reflected toward us. We are viewing the nebulae edge-on, where the direct starlight is blocked by the dusty cocoon. Otherwise, the starlight would overwhelm the nebular light, making it very difficult to see the butterfly-shaped nebula. In a few hundred years, intense ultraviolet radiation from the central star will energize the surrounding gas, causing it to glow brightly, and a planetary nebula is born.


S. Kwok (University of Calgary), R. Rubin (NASA/ESA Ames Research Center), H. Bond (ST ScI) and NASA/ESA

About the Image

NASA press release
NASA caption
Release date:19 March 1998, 06:00
Size:2400 x 3000 px

About the Object

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Hubble Space Telescope

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