M57, NGC6720, Ring Nebula
About this image
The Ring Nebula, M57, NGC6720
This true color picture was taken using Ektachrome film at the prime focus of the Kitt Peak 4m telescope on September 1st 1973. This is unusual: normally color images are made by combining black and white images taken through different colored filters.
The Ring Nebula, also known as M57 or NGC 6720, is found in the constellation
Lyra. A spherical shell of glowing gas surrounds a central hot star.
The nebula was formed when the central star ejected perhaps as much as
ten percent of its mass, over a period of some millions of years.
Initially slow mass loss creates a surrounding shell of material which
is later ionized by hotter, faster ejecta, which can result in quite
complex structures. The Ring Nebula was the first planetary
nebula discovered, so called because of its visual spherical appearance
through telescopes in the past. It has a diameter a little under one
light-year and is 3000 light-years from Earth (angular size 1.2 arc minutes).
Location: 18 hrs 53.6 min +33 deg 02 min (2000)
Photograph by Bill Schoening.
Minimum credit line: Bill Schoening/NOAO/AURA/NSF
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