The Very Giant Telescope captures the attractive remnants of a dying star

This red-hued cloud of gasoline is called Abell 24, and is situated within the constellation of Canis Minor (The Lesser Canine). The picture was taken with the VLT’s FORS (FOcal Reducer and Spectrograph) instrument. ESO

This lovely cosmic object is a planetary nebula named Abell 24, captured by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Giant Telescope (VLT).

Situated within the constellation of Canis Minor (The Lesser Canine), that is the remnants of a long-dead star. A planetary nebula shouldn’t be associated to planets — the complicated identify comes from a time when nebulae had been noticed utilizing primitive telescopes which weren’t robust sufficient to distinguish between nebulae and planets. In actual fact, a planetary nebula is a swirl of mud and gasoline which is illuminated by the core of a useless star.

The lifecycle of a star includes a brilliant, lively section, by which the star glows with gentle and warmth because of the fusion of hydrogen into helium inside its core. However as hundreds of years cross, the star will finally burn via all of its hydrogen and can finally run out of gas. When this occurs, the forces of gravity that are pushing into the star from the skin are not balanced by the power being pushed outward from the star’s core. This causes the core of the star to break down, shrinking right down to a scorching, dense mass. However on the identical time, the cooler outer layers of the star increase, inflicting the star to develop right into a crimson large.

The crimson large section shouldn’t be the top of the story for the star, nonetheless. Subsequent, stellar winds pull gasoline away from the outer layers of the star, making a shell of gasoline which spreads out from across the star. Finally, the gasoline can be pulled away till solely the new glowing core stays. The core emits massive quantities of ultraviolet radiation, which ionizes the encompassing gasoline. It’s this illuminated gasoline which kinds the glow of a planetary nebula like Abell 24.

This picture was captured utilizing the FORS (FOcal Reducer and Spectrograph) instrument on the Very Giant Telescope, situated within the Chilean desert. The VLT consists of 4 telescopes, every of which has a foremost mirror which is eight.2 meters (about 27 toes) in diameter, plus 4 auxiliary telescopes that are 1.eight meters (7 toes) diameter every. These eight telescopes work collectively to type the world’s most superior optical instrument.

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