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Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have photographed a festive-looking nearby planetary nebula called NGC 5189. The nebula is made up mostly of clumps and strings of gas. Its intricate structure resembles a glass-blown holiday ornament with a glowing ribbon entwined.
Planetary nebulae represent the final stage in the life of a medium-sized star like our Sun. While consuming the last of the fuel in its core, the dying star expels a large portion of its outer envelope. This material then becomes heated by the radiation from the stellar remnant and radiates, producing glowing clouds of gas that can show complex structures.
A spectacular example of this beautiful complexity is seen in NGC 5189’s bluish lobes, located above and below the central region.
NGC 5189 is located about 1,800 light-years away in the southern constellation Musca. This image was taken with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 and it is the most detailed yet made of this object.