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The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has captured a picture of a cosmic phenomenon generally known as a planetary nebula. The glow of planetary nebula ESO 577-24 will final solely a short while — 10,000 years, which is extraordinarily transient in cosmic phrases — and the ESO managed to seize this picture of the final dying breath of a star.

You may see the dying star Abell 36 in the midst of the picture, with a gaseous shell round it that may step by step unfold out into area. The nebula is all that continues to be of a purple large star which has run out of gasoline and contracted, inflicting its core to reignite as a result of immense strain from gravity and throwing off its outer layers. This course of left behind a a lot smaller and really dense sizzling dwarf star as a substitute. Regardless of its identify, there are usually not really any planets concerned in a planetary nebula — the identify comes from a misunderstanding all the way in which again within the 1780s when astronomers first noticed these nebulae and thru that they regarded like planets.

The faint, ephemeral glow emanating from the planetary nebula ESO 577-24 persists for under a short while  — round 10,000 years, a blink of a watch in astronomical phrases. ESO

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The picture was captured by the ESO’s Very Giant Telescope and reveals the shell of glowing ionized fuel across the dying star. Over time, this fuel will dissipate and the planetary nebula will develop and develop step by step dimmer till it disappears from view solely. The picture reveals purple and blue colours as a result of optical emissions of purple and blue wavelengths, and the ejected layers of the previous purple large glow due to intense radiation coming from the core.

This planetary nebula was first noticed within the 1950s as a part of the Nationwide Geographic Society  — Palomar Observatory Sky Survey, however solely lately has it change into potential to watch it intimately due to highly effective telescopes. The picture was created for the ESO Cosmic Gems Programme, an uncommon challenge which goals to get the general public eager about astronomy by producing pictures of attention-grabbing and visually enticing cosmic phenomena.

The ESO additionally launched a video explaining the planetary nebula phenomenon, which you’ll be able to watch beneath:


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