The Planetary Nebula NGC 7207

The Planetary Nebula NGC 7207
From the Hubble Space Telescope
This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of planetary nebula NGC 7027 shows remarkable details of the process by which a star like the Sun dies. New features include: faint, blue, concentric shells surrounding the nebula; an extensive network of red dust clouds throughout the bright inner region; and the hot central white dwarf, visible as a white dot at the center. The nebula is a record of the star's final death throes. Initially the ejection of the star's outer layers, when it was at its red giant stage of evolution, occurred at a low rate and was spherical. The initial ejections occurred episodically to produce the concentric shells. This culminated in a vigorous ejection of all of the remaining outer layers, which produced the bright inner regions. At this later stage the ejection was non-spherical, and dense clouds of dust condensed from the ejected material.
NGC 7027 is located about 3,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Cygnus. When a star like the Sun nears the end of its life, it expands to more than 50 times its original diameter, becoming a red giant star. Then its outer layers are ejected into space, exposing the small, extremely hot core of the star, which cools off to become a white dwarf. Although stars like the Sun can live for up to 10 billion years before becoming a red giant and ejecting a nebula, the actual ejection process takes only a few thousand years. The NGC 7027 photograph is a composite of two Hubble images, taken in visible and infrared light, and is shown in "pseudo-color."
Image Title: The Planetary Nebula NGC 7207
based on press release for PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC96-05
Credit: H. Bond (STScI) and NASA

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Last Modified On: Sunday, December 17, 2000