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Planetary Nebulae

Planetary Nebulae

Depicts: The Cotton Candy Nebula, IRAS 17150-3224, The Silkworm Nebula, IRAS 17441-2411, NGC 6818, IRAS 19411-1416, NGC 3918, IRAS 11478-5654
Copyright: S. Kwok (University of Calgary), R. Rubin (NASA Ames Research Center),H. Bond (ST ScI) and NASA

The nebulae are being illuminated by light from the invisible central star, which is then reflected toward us. We are viewing the nebulae edge-on, where the direct starlight is blocked by the dusty cocoon. Otherwise, the starlight would overwhelm the nebular light, making it very difficult to see the butterfly-shaped nebula. In a few hundred years, intense ultraviolet radiation from the central star will energize the surrounding gas, causing it to glow brightly, and a planetary nebula is born.
Last Update: 1 September 2019
15-Jul-2024 11:32 UT

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