Mouse over the image and scroll to zoom in and out, or use the blue buttons that appear in the lower right corner of the image.
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. Learn more at HubbleSite's NewsCenter.