Wednesday, June 28, 2017

IC 418: The Spirograph Nebula

IC 418: The Spirograph Nebula:

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2017 June 11


See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.


IC 418: The Spirograph Nebula

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgement: R. Sahai (JPL) et al.


Explanation: What is creating the strange texture of IC 418? Dubbed the Spirograph Nebula for its resemblance to drawings from a cyclical drawing tool, planetary nebula IC 418 shows patterns that are not well understood. Perhaps they are related to chaotic winds from the variable central star, which changes brightness unpredictably in just a few hours. By contrast, evidence indicates that only a few million years ago, IC 418 was probably a well-understood star similar to our Sun. Only a few thousand years ago, IC 418 was probably a common red giant star. Since running out of nuclear fuel, though, the outer envelope has begun expanding outward leaving a hot remnant core destined to become a white-dwarf star, visible in the image center. The light from the central core excites surrounding atoms in the nebula causing them to glow. IC 418 lies about 2000 light-years away and spans 0.3 light-years across. This false-color image taken from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the unusual details.

Tomorrow's picture: a pit of mars



< | Archive | Submissions | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >



Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.