August 15th, 2011
11:33 AM ET

Cosmic Inkblot Test

"The Dumbbell Nebula, also known as Messier 27, pumps out infrared light in this image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The nebula was named after its resemblance to a dumbbell when seen in visible light. It was discovered in 1764 by Charles Messier, who included it as the 27th member of his famous catalog of nebulous objects. Although he did not know it at the time, this was the first in a class of objects, now known as planetary nebulae, to make it into the catalog.

Planetary nebulae, historically named for their resemblance to gas-giant planets, are now known to be the remains of stars that once looked a lot like our sun. When sun-like stars die, they puff out their outer gaseous layers, which are heated by the hot core of the dead star, called a white dwarf, and shine with infrared and visible-light colors. Our own sun will blossom into a planetary nebula when it dies in about five billion years."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. ajd041

    Did u not read the article it said around the size of our sun

    August 16, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • fimeilleur

      No, it didn't... "Planetary nebulae, historically named for their resemblance to gas-giant planets, are now known to be the remains of stars that once looked a lot like our sun. "

      That says nothing about size, only appearance.

      August 17, 2011 at 6:24 am |
      • ChaoticDreams

        Nebulae are almost always light-years across, and a nebula the size of the sun cannot exist, gravitational forces do not allow it

        August 23, 2011 at 11:28 am |
      • fimeilleur

        R U replying to me? or to ajd041?

        August 23, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  2. fimeilleur

    1360 light years away and visible with binoculars... that thing must be HUGE!!!!

    August 15, 2011 at 11:13 pm |

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