Astronomers utilizing the FORS (FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph) instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) have obtained a spectacular image of the planetary nebula NGC 2899. This object has by no means ahead of been imaged in such striking detail, with even the faint outer edges of NGC 2899 glowing more than the background stars.
This hugely detailed image of the planetary nebula NGC 2899 was captured utilizing the FORS instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Image credit: ESO.
Unlike what their frequent name suggests, planetary nebulae have absolutely nothing to do with planets.
The 1st astronomers to observe these objects merely described them as planet-like in look.
They are as an alternative formed when ancient stars with up to six occasions the mass of our Sun attain the finish of their lives, collapse, and blow off expanding shells of gas, wealthy in heavy components.
Intense ultraviolet radiation energizes and lights up these moving shells, causing them to shine brightly for thousands of years till they eventually disperse gradually via space, producing planetary nebulae comparatively brief-lived phenomena on astronomical timescales.
NGC 2899 is situated involving three,000 and six,500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Vela.
Also identified as Gum 27, ESO 166-13, Hen two-30 and PN G277.1-03.eight, the nebula was found by the English astronomer John Herschel on February 27, 1835.
NGC 2899’s vast swathes of gas extend up to a maximum of two light-years from its center, glowing brightly in front of the stars of the Milky Way as the gas reaches temperatures upwards of 10,000 degrees Celsius.
The higher temperatures are due to the massive quantity of radiation from the nebula’s parent star, which causes the hydrogen gas in the nebula to glow in a reddish halo about the oxygen gas, in blue.
NGC 2899 has two central stars, which are believed to give it its practically symmetric look.
After a single star reached the finish of its life and cast off its outer layers, the other star now interferes with the flow of gas, forming the two-lobed shape observed right here.
Only about 10-20% of planetary nebulae show this kind of bipolar shape.
The group of ESO astronomers had been capable to capture this hugely detailed image of NGC 2899 utilizing the FORS instrument installed on UT1 (Antu), a single of the 4 eight.two-m telescopes that make up VLT.
This higher-resolution instrument was a single of the 1st to be installed on VLT and is behind various wonderful photos and discoveries from ESO.