Ring Nebula : 1995-2008

Photograph by

Robert Gendler

About this image

Both the inner and outer structure of the famous Ring Nebula is shown in this composite image. The Ring Nebula was formed from the gas blown out by a sun-like star toward the end of its life. By this stage the star has used up its hydrogen and is burning helium instead, its core has contracted and its outer gas blown out to form a red giant. When this fuel is exhausted, complex processes eject huge shells of gas which we see as a ‘planetary nebula’. The Ring Nebula, catalogued by astronomers as Messier 57 or NGC 6720, lies about 2300 light years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. The central ring of the nebula is about one light year across. This image was assembled from data gathered by the orbiting 2.4 metre Hubble Space Telescope, the 8.2 metre Subaru Telescope in Hawai’i and the photographer’s own 14.5 inch telescope. Robert Gendler Astronomy, Avon, Connecticut, USA.