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M57 Ring Nebula

The Ring Nebula. A stellar remnant in the constellation of Lyra. 

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The Ring Nebula is a planetary nebula located in the constellation of Lyra. It is also known as M57, which is the catalog number given by Charles Messier, a French astronomer that lived in the 1700's.

Planetary Nebulae are the remnants of low-mass stars that died. These stars shed their envelopes until only a hot carbon core is left. The core is then called a White dwarf. What is left around is hot gas that is ionized and glows in different colors depending on the main elements that conform them; Hydrogen will glow red, Oxygen will be blue, sodium will be yellow, etc.

Contrary to the more massive stars that die in a big supernova explosion, low-mass stars go through a slow dead; they will not be able to sustain thermostatic equilibrium and, as a consequence, they develop pulsations across the whole surface that expel the outer layers. Just like a giant onion, those layers will peel into space. Our own Sun will eventually reach this fate... in several billion years!

M57 is one of my favorites deep-sky objects to look through a telescope. 


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M57 Ring Nebula

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