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Rediff.com  » News » The Ring Nebula, As Never Seen Before

The Ring Nebula, As Never Seen Before

By REDIFF NEWS
August 05, 2023 12:47 IST
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The mesmerising Ring Nebula through the eyes of the James Webb Space Telescope captured by the astronomers at the University of Manchester.

The Ring Nebula, which is also known as Messier 57 (M57), is approximately 2,200 light-years away from Earth.

This donut-shaped ring of glowing gas and dust is visible even through a domestic telescope during a clear sky.

M57 came into existence from a dying star that expelled its outer layers into space creating delicate glowing rings of gas and dust.

 

IMAGE: The Ring Nebula. All photographs: Kind courtesy The University of Manchester

 

A Close-Up

IMAGE: A close-up.
The brightest star here is the dying, extremely hot central star.
It has used up all its fuel and is now cooling down.
The star will become a white dwarf, an inert remnant of a star.
The fainter stars in the image are not related.

 

The Outer Halo

IMAGE: A close-up of the southern part of the outer halo, the part outside the main ring.
The team found several hundred linear features, pointing approximately at the central star.
How a single star can create such a complex nebula is not well understood.
The James Webb Space Telescope will be used to study the structure, and the origin of the clumps and stripes.
In the background, thousands of more distant, numerous faint galaxies can be seen, some with clear spiral structure.

 

Clumps

IMAGE: A close-up of part of the nebula shows that the ring consists of large numbers of small clumps.
The team counts as many as 20,000 clumps.
They contain molecular hydrogen and are much cooler and denser than the rest of the nebula.
Some of the clumps are beginning to develop tails (see, lower right), behaving as comets the size of planets.
About half of all gas in the nebula is in these clumps.

 

The Halo: A Close-Up

IMAGE: A further close-up of the halo, showing wisps, where hot gas is blowing into the halo and sweeping up the material there.

 

Photographs curated by Manisha Kotian/Rediff.com
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

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