Annular Planetary Nebula, Shapley 1 (Photo)

Epoch Times Staff
Created: November 15, 2011 Last Updated: November 15, 2011
Related articles: Science » Space & Astronomy
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Shapley 1: An annular planetary nebula. (ESO)

Shapley 1: An annular planetary nebula. (ESO)

When a dying star with a mass similar to our sun runs out of fuel, its center condenses into a white dwarf, and its outer layers shoot into space, generating an ionized shell of gas called a planetary nebula.

This planetary nebula is called the Fine Ring Nebula, also known as Shapley 1 after the American astronomer Harlow Shapley, who discovered it in 1936. It is located in the constellation of Norma, approximately 1,000 light-years away, and is about one-third of a light-year across.

Such nebulae have the appearance of giant planets, but actually occur around stars outside our solar system.

The stellar object at Shapley 1′s center is believed to be a binary system comprising the primary star and a companion star, orbiting it every 2.9 days.

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