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Planetary Nebula NGC 2392 Has Remarkably Beautiful Death (PICTURES)

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When it comes to stars, death can be remarkably beautiful.

This spectacular photo taken with the help of Nasa's Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope and other instruments, is the planetary nebula NGC 2392.

Located about 4,200 light years from Earth, it's a cloud of gas and radiation which is thrown off from the hot, dense remnants of a star.

That hot core can reach 50,000 degrees Celsius on the surface after ejecting its outer layers - as has happened in this image. Eventually it will fall back into itself and form a white dwarf.

nasa

Phys.org highlights a report in the Astrophysical Journal about NGC 2392, in which the team of researchers behind this composite picture discuss how the nebula compares to others, and what that tells us about the lifecycle of stars including our own.

The Chandra team, located at Harvard University, explain how the image was made:

"This composite image of NGC 2392 contains X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in purple showing the location of million-degree gas near the center of the planetary nebula. Data from the Hubble Space Telescope show -- colored red, green, and blue -- the intricate pattern of the outer layers of the star that have been ejected. The comet-shaped filaments form when the faster wind and radiation from the central star interact with cooler shells of dust and gas that were already ejected by the star."

Head over to Chandra to read the full story, or enjoy more of our favourite space pictures below.

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