Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2023 August 14
An oval nebula is seen in false color. The nebula appears
blue in the center, orange and red around the rim, and orange and purple
filaments extending to the edge of the frame. Stars are seen throughout
the frame.
Please see the explanation for more detailed information.

The Ring Nebula from Webb
Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, JWST; Processing: Zi Yang Kong

Explanation: The Ring Nebula (M57), is more complicated than it appears through a small telescope. The easily visible central ring is about one light-year across, but this remarkably exposure by the James Webb Space Telescope explores this popular nebula with a deep exposure in infrared light. Strings of gas, like eyelashes around a cosmic eye, become evident around the Ring in this digitally enhanced featured image in assigned colors. These long filaments may be caused by shadowing of knots of dense gas in the ring from energetic light emitted within. The Ring Nebula is an elongated planetary nebula, a type of gas cloud created when a Sun-like star evolves to throw off its outer atmosphere to become a white dwarf star. The central oval in the Ring Nebula lies about 2,500 light-years toward the musical constellation Lyra.

Tomorrow's picture: ring strings

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