Iridescent Glory Of Nearby Planetary Nebula Showcased
In one of the largest and most detailed celestial images ever made, the coil-shaped Helix Nebula is being unveiled today in celebration of Astronomy Day (Saturday, May 10).
The composite picture is a seamless blend of ultra-sharp NASA Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images combined with the wide view of the Mosaic Camera on the National Science Foundation's 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, part of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, near Tucson, Ariz. Astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) assembled the images into a mosaic. The mosaic was blended with a wider photograph taken by the Mosaic Camera. The image shows a fine web of filamentary "bicycle-spoke" features embedded in the colorful red and blue gas ring, which is one of the nearest planetary nebulae to Earth.
Because the nebula is nearby, it appears as nearly one-half the diameter of the full moon. This required HST astronomers to take several exposures with the Advanced Camera for Surveys to capture most ...