The haunting bubble of a dying star

A planetary nebula, the remnants of a dying star. Image: ESO

This image of an amazing bubble, glowing like the ghost of a star in the darkness of space, is actually a familiar astronomical object called a planetary nebula, the remnants of a dying star.

This view of object ESO 378-1, nicknamed the Southern Owl Nebula, was captured by ESO’s (European Southern Observatory) Very Large Telescope in northern Chile.

The orb is is located in the constellation of Hydr and is almost four light years across.

Its informal name relates to its visual cousin in the northern hemisphere, the Owl Nebula.

Planetary nebulae are created by the ejected and expanding gas of dying stars.

The Sun will produce a planetary nebula several billion years in the future and will afterwards also spend its twilight years as a white dwarf

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