The Colorful Structure of the Ring Nebula

  • Released Friday, June 28, 2019
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This visualization zooms into the constellation Lyra to the location of the Ring Nebula and an image from the Hubble Space Telescope (visible light) and the Large Binocular Telescope (infrared light). A planetary nebula, the Ring Nebula formed when a medium-sized star shed the outer layers of its atmosphere at the end of its life.

A three-dimensional model of the Ring Nebula, developed from these narrow-band observations, is explored in detail. The main ring glows in the light of nitrogen, shown in light red. That ring is filled with oxygen emission, shown in green. Perpendicular lobes contain the hottest emission from helium, shown in blue. Dense dark knots line the interior of the ring, and their shadows glow like spikes in infrared hydrogen emission, shown in deep red. Infrared Hydrogen emission also reveals the inner and outer halos that arose from earlier stellar outbursts.

After identifying the structural component associated with each element's emission lines, the visualization circuits around the 3D model to provide a complete overview. The movie showcases the more accurate and more detailed structure astronomers have uncovered.

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Please give credit for this item to:
G. Bacon and F. Summers (STScI)

Release date

This page was originally published on Friday, June 28, 2019.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 at 12:41 AM EST.


This visualization is related to the following missions: