Originally shared by Pierre Markuse
Infrared View of the Helix Nebula - NGC 7293
In this image taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope and processed by Judy Schmidt you can see an infrared view of the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293, Caldwell 63). Because of its appearance it is sometimes called the "Eye of God" as well as the "Eye of Sauron". It is a planetary nebula located in the constellation of Aquarius (The Water-carrier, https://goo.gl/Fs3kFq), about 700 light-years away from Earth and has a diameter of roughly 5.7 light-years.
The Helix Nebula was discovered in 1824 by the German astronomer Karl Ludwig Harding (https://goo.gl/20ClAo).
More on the Helix Nebula:
Take a look here for a visible light view of the Helix Nebula taken by Dylan O'Donnell:
What is a planetary nebula?
A planetary nebula is an emission nebula (https://goo.gl/QtI28t), it is basically a shell of glowing ionized gas ejected from old red giant stars and driven by the ultraviolet radiation of the emerging young and hot white dwarf (https://goo.gl/HGYVfx). They are short-lived objects, lasting a few tens of thousands of years until the white dwarf has cooled down so much that its not putting out enough ultraviolet radiation anymore and the gas no longer gets ionized. More here:
Videos explaining planetary nebulae:
Image credit: Helix Nebula Judy Schmidt based on Spitzer Space Telescope Data https://goo.gl/cJRLrz CC BY 2.0 https://goo.gl/sZ7V7x
Take a look at more of her work
I recommend you take a look at her website http://geckzilla.com/ and her Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/geckzilla/ to see more of the many beautiful images Judy processed
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