October 31, 2005

Ooooooh, shiny halloween-y!

It's the Ghost of Jupiter!


[Image: Bruce Balick/HST/NASA]

After a star like the Sun completes fusion in its core, it throws off its outer layers in a brief, beautiful cosmic display called a planetary nebula. NGC 3242 is such a planetary nebula, with the stellar remnant white dwarf star visible at the center. This nebula is sometimes called The Ghost of Jupiter for its faint, but similar appearance to our solar system's ruling gas giant planet. NGC 3242 is light-years across however, and much farther away than the measly 40 light-minutes distance to Jupiter.

And, no, astronomers don't really know what those funny red things are, either.

You can find more info about the photo here. You can view a much larger version of the photo here.

Via Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Posted by Magpie at October 31, 2005 01:28 PM | Shiny Things | Technorati links |