Little gem

This colourful bubble is a planetary nebula called NGC 6818, also known as the Little Gem Nebula. It is located in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer), roughly 6000 light-years away from us. The rich glow of the cloud is just over half a light-year across — humongous compared to its tiny central star — but still a little gem on a cosmic scale.

When stars like the Sun enter retirement, they shed their outer layers into space to create glowing clouds of gas called planetary nebulae. This ejection of mass is uneven, and planetary nebulae can have very complex shapes. NGC 6818 shows knotty filament-like structures and distinct layers of material, with a bright and enclosed central bubble surrounded by a larger, more diffuse cloud.

Scientists believe that the stellar wind from the central star propels the outflowing material, sculpting the elongated shape of NGC 6818. As this fast wind smashes through the slower-moving cloud it creates particularly bright blowouts at the bubble’s outer layers.

Hubble previously imaged this nebula back in 1997 with its Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, using a mix of filters that highlighted emission from ionised oxygen and hydrogen (opo9811h). This image, while from the same camera, uses different filters to reveal a different view of the nebula. A version of the image was submitted to the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Judy Schmidt.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA
Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (geckzilla.com)

About the Image

Id:potw1531a
Type:Observation
Release date:3 August 2015, 10:00
Size:678 x 684 px

About the Object

Name:Little Gem Nebula, NGC 6818
Type:Milky Way : Nebula : Type : Planetary
Distance:6000 light years
Constellation:Sagittarius
Category:Nebulae

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Coordinates

Position (RA):19 43 58.02
Position (Dec):-14° 9' 13.71"
Field of view:0.54 x 0.55 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 32.9° right of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical487 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2
Optical502 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2
Optical656 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2
Optical658 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2
Optical437 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2

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