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Picture Scramble # 159 29 March 2002

A Glowing Pool of Light

This planetary nebula, NGC 3132, shows an expanding cloud of gas, surrounding a dying star, known to amateur astronomers in the southern hemisphere as the "Eight-Burst" or the "Southern Ring" Nebula. (28 pieces)

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Planetary nebula are huge shells of gas ejected by stars as they near the ends of their lifetimes. NGC 3132 is nearly half a light year in diameter, and at a distance of about 2000 light years is one of the nearer known planetary nebulae. The gases are expanding away from the central star at a speed of 9 miles per second.

Courtesy of NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA). Copyright © 2000-2007 by Calvin J. Hamilton & Randall L. Whipkey. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement.