The "eye of God

Relic of a dead star - the Helix Nebula

The Helix Nebula is also referred to as the "Eye of God" because of its striking shape. © NASA / JPL-Caltech / J. Hora (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)
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A gigantic eye looks down on the earth from 700 light-years away. The Helix Nebula is therefore also referred to as the "Eye of God" or "Eye of Sauron" - but in reality it is the colorful remnant of a dead star. The Planetary Nebula originated when a low-mass star ejected its outer sheaths and became the White Dwarf.

Even our sun will end like this: At the end of its life cycle, it will not end in a supernova because it is too low in mass for such a starburst. Instead, our star will inflate into the Red Giant in about ten billion years and then collapse. The dying star hurls its outer sheaths, producing a colorful planetary nebula. His core becomes the White Dwarf.

One of the most visible examples of such a planetary nebula is the helix nebula in the constellation Aquarius. At just under 700 light-years away, it is the closest representative of this stellar remnant and appears therefore particularly large in the sky. Among other things, this fog was discovered in 1823 by the German astronomer Karl Ludwig Harding. In the meantime, numerous modern telescopes have also provided images of this eye-shaped structure. This picture was created by the Space Telescope Spitzer several years ago.

Astronomers conclude from the observations that the helix nebula began to expand about 12, 000 years ago. At some point around this time his star of origin could have thrown out the hot gases. To this day, the colored rings of the nebula race at high speed. According to spectroscopic measurements, the gases in the outer ring move into space at around 40 kilometers per second, in the inner ring at 32 kilometers per second.

The Helix Nebula is also the first planetary nebula in which astronomers have detected nodular lumps of gas. Because they, like comets, pull some kind of tail behind them, they are also called "cometary knots". Each of these nodes is approximately the size of our entire solar system. display

Source: NASA

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- Nadja Podbregar