I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Astronomy Tuesday

There's no other way to describe it: this is just very cool.

Remember a few weeks ago, when I mentioned that the word nebula comes from the Latin word for cloud, and so was originally used to describe any bright fuzzy patch in the sky? And most of what we call nebulae are very cloud-like.

So what the heck is this? IC4406 is a planetary nebula, the ring of gases cast off by an aging star. The reason this looks like a rectangle rather than a ring is because we're looking at it from the side. The gases are forming a long cylinder; if we were a few light years off to the right or the left, we'd see the usual (boring) ring shape.

Image Credit: C. R. O'Dell (Vanderbilt U.) et al., Hubble Heritage Team, NASA

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