Skip to comments.Astronomy Picture of the Day
Posted on 12/31/2009 8:18:10 AM PST by sig226
Explanation: Dust makes this cosmic eye look red. The eerie Spitzer Space Telescope image shows infrared radiation from the well-studied Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) a mere 700 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius. The two light-year diameter shroud of dust and gas around a central white dwarf has long been considered an excellent example of a planetary nebula, representing the final stages in the evolution of a sun-like star. But the Spitzer data show the nebula's central star itself is immersed in a surprisingly bright infrared glow. Models suggest the glow is produced by a dust debris disk. Even though the nebular material was ejected from the star many thousands of years ago, the close-in dust could be generated by collisions in a reservoir of objects analogous to our own solar system's Kuiper Belt or cometary Oort cloud. Formed in the distant planetary system, the comet-like bodies would have otherwise survived even the dramatic late stages of the star's evolution.
A great picture and a great book.
New desktop wallpaper for a new year - thank you.
Wow! After I pass on, my soul will spend the eternity exploring the heavens!
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate.
Looks kinda like the Eye of Sauron. lol
As always, a beautiful picture!!!
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