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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Portrait of Planetary Nebula NGC 3132, the Southern Ring Nebula

Portrait of Planetary Nebula NGC 3132, the Southern Ring Nebula
Click on the image to enlarge

NGC 3132, also referred to as the Eight-Burst or the Southern Ring Nebula, glows at a distance of about 2,000 light years in the constellation Vela, making it one of the nearest so-called planetary nebulae. These phenomena are the result of the shedding of the outer gaseous layers of a star toward the end of its life cycle. The remaining stellar core's radiation causes the spherical shell of expelled gas to glow. The term "planetary nebula" derives from the round shape these objects have when viewed through small telescopes, making them appear similar to planets in the Solar System.
Credit: ESO

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