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The Hubble Space Telescope has created stunning images of the bright, asymmetric planetary nebula NGC 6891, located in the northern galaxy of dolphins.
Also known as BD + 12 4266, HD 192563 and IRAS 20127 + 1233, this nebula is 11,784 light-years from Earth and has a complex structure.
The new image of the nebula from NASA’s Space Telescope Hubble in collaboration with the European Space Agency reveals a wealth of structures, including a spherical outer halo that expands faster than the inner nebula and at least two outer shells in an ellipse. Form, different perspective.
The image also shows the filaments and knots inside the nebula surrounding the central white dwarf star. Through its motions, astronomers estimate that one of the elliptical outer shells is 4,800 years old and the outer corona is about 28,000 years old, indicating a series of eruptions from a dying star at different times.
Hubble studied NGC 6891 as part of an effort to measure distances for nebulae, and learn more about how their structures form and evolve.
NGC 6891 is made up of gas ionized by a central white dwarf star that removes electrons from the hydrogen atoms in the nebula.
When the reactivated electrons from the higher energy state return to the lower energy state by recombining with the hydrogen nuclei, they emit energy in the form of light, causing the nebula gas to glow.
NGC 6891 was discovered on September 22, 1884 by the English astronomer Ralph Copeland.
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