Helix Nebula: Image obtained by Harold Vander Molen (member of Black Hills Astronomical Society) in New Mexico - 2018


The Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) is a large planetary nebula located ~650 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Aquarius. Discovered

by Karl Ludwig Harding, probably before 1824, this object is one of the closest to the Earth of all the bright planetary nebulae. It provides a
sneak peek at the future of our own sun, which is expected to turn into a planetary nebula in about 5 billion years. Planetary nebulae are
stars about the size of our sun that have neared the ends of their lives and run out of hydrogen and helium fuel for fusion in their cores. At
that point, they puff out their outer gaseous layers into glowing shells and condense into small white dwarf stars.

Back to SD Space Grant Consortium Homepage