The long goodbye

A dying star’s final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star’s demise is still quite lengthy by our standards, lasting tens of thousands of years!

The star’s agony has culminated in a wonderful planetary nebula known as NGC 6565, a cloud of gas that was ejected from the star after strong stellar winds pushed the star’s outer layers away into space. Once enough material was ejected, the star’s luminous core was exposed and it began to produce ultraviolet radiation, exciting the surrounding gas to varying degrees and causing it to radiate in an attractive array of colours. These same colours can be seen in the famous and impressive Ring Nebula (heic1310), a prominent example of a nebula like this one.

Planetary nebulae are illuminated for around 10 000 years before the central star begins to cool and shrink to become a white dwarf. When this happens, the star’s light drastically diminishes and ceases to excite the surrounding gas, so the nebula fades from view.

A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures basic image competition by contestant Matej Novak.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA
Acknowledgement: M. Novak

About the Image

Id:potw1530a
Type:Observation
Release date:27 July 2015, 10:00
Size:602 x 440 px

About the Object

Name:NGC 6565
Type:Milky Way : Nebula : Type : Planetary
Distance:15000 light years
Constellation:Sagittarius
Category:Nebulae

Image Formats

Large JPEG
90.3 KB
Screensize JPEG
145.0 KB

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Wallpapers

1024x768
198.2 KB
1280x1024
279.8 KB
1600x1200
366.0 KB
1920x1200
406.3 KB
2048x1536
510.7 KB

Coordinates

Position (RA):18 11 52.40
Position (Dec):-28° 10' 40.95"
Field of view:0.50 x 0.37 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 134.9° left of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
V
555 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2
Optical
OIII
502 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2
Optical
G
656 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2
Optical
H-alpha
658 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2

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