Wordless Wednesday – The Helix Nebula

by Deb on January 12, 2011

helix nebula

Obviously I didn’t take this one myself!  This is the Helix Nebula from the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day.  It is a planetary nebula, a large cloud of gas and dust pushed out in the death stages of a sunlike star.  These stars are too small for an explosive supernova but their radiation does push out their outer layers to form the nebula.

To give some perspective, the white dot in the middle is the central star, the inner region of the nebula is about 3 light years across and the total diameter is about 6 light years.  We are currently 8 light minutes from the sun and the Kuiper belt, where Pluto is, is between 240 – 440 light minutes.  So when this happens to the sun we would be well inside (except the earth will be gone by then).

I want to highlight the Astronomy Picture of the Day, they are always interesting and usually gorgeous and they have an RSS feed to have them delivered straight to you every day.  My girls love looking at them and talking about them.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Tamara January 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Such a fabulous photo. I might just have to get their feed.

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Tat January 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Wow, it looks like an eye!

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Shailender @ Valentine Vacation January 12, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I have noticed that almost every space picture come out very beautiful… This is one of them.
Shailender @ Valentine Vacation´s latest amazing offering ..Merry Christmas &amp Happy Holidays from India DarshanMy Profile

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amandab January 16, 2011 at 6:12 am

For some reason the photo wouldn’t load for me the other day, but I do agree with Tat, it DOES look like an eye 🙂

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