Unrivaled View of Brilliant ‘Planetary Nebula’ NGC 2899

Unrivaled View of Brilliant ‘Planetary Nebula’ NGC 2899

A star at the center of this tie-dye apparition is collapsing, a process scientists have watched and measured for decades. In 2020 astronomers overcame the 3,000 to 6,500 light-years separating us from this celestial beauty, named NGC 2899, for the clearest picture of it yet. Though the phenomenon is called a planetary nebula, the term is a misnomer. In the image of NGC 2899, oxygen (blue) is surrounded by hydrogen (pink). Discovered in 1835 by English astronomer John Herschel in the constellation Vela, NGC 2899 looks like a butterfly because it is made of two stars.

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