A Colorful Bubble


Little gemThis is NGC 6818. It’s a planetary nebula also known as the Little Gem Nebula. It about 6,000 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius. The cloud is a bit more than half a light-year across, huge compared to its central star  but still a little gem as nebulas go.

When stars like the Sun are ready to “retire,” they shed their outer layers into space which creates glowing clouds of gas called planetary nebulae. The ejection of mass is uneven, and planetary nebulae often have very complex shapes. NGC 6818 has a bright and enclosed central bubble surrounded by a larger, more diffuse cloud. It appears that the stellar wind from the central star propels the outflowing material, shaping NGC 6818. As the fast stellar wind smashes through the slower-moving cloud, it creates particularly bright blowouts in the bubble’s outer layers.

Image Credit: NASA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s