If you are on Instagram and do not follow NASA you are missing out on a whole lot. The official NASA account posts some of the most incredible pictures of deep space irregularities, its various satellites up in space, incredible images of our solar system and the planets in them and images of Planetary Nebulae (PNe).
A Planetary Nebula (PN) is an incredible sight that one gets to see in space. It is made up of ionised gas that has been expelled by an old red giant star late in its life. The exposed core of the star ionises the gas which is what gives this phenomenon its incredible colours.
The image above was taken from the Hubble telescope of the NGC 6818, more commonly known as the Little Gem Nebula. It is located 6,000 light years away in the constellation Sagittarius. It is not a newly discovered PN, but has been given a makeover in this image, thanks to colour filters.
The PN does not last long, only a few ten thousand years — a blip in the lifetime of a star which is usually billions of years — The gases soon begin to ooze out into space, leaving the star to gradually die.
Space is a wondrous place. The more it is explored, the more of its beauty we discover. Wonder if there is anyone out there who discovers us, or vice versa.