Astronomers get a color image of the bizarre Skull Nebula

Astronomers get a color image of the bizarre Skull Nebula
Astronomers get a color image of the bizarre Skull Nebula

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has revealed a new clear and color image of a bizarre gas nebula that resembles a skull floating in the dark space of space.

The snapshot and a short release to it are published on the official ESO website. It is reported that the image was taken with the Very Large Telescope (VLT), which is located in the Chilean Atacama Desert. The picture shows a gas nebula located in the center of the southern constellation Cetus.

The FORS 2 receiver installed on the telescope helped astronomers to obtain this color and surprisingly clear image. The observations were carried out "in the rays emitted by the atoms of individual chemical elements." This provided data on the chemical composition and structure of the object. An image of the Skull Nebula shows that it is saturated with hydrogen, indicated in the image in red, and oxygen, indicated in blue.

This bizarre nebula got its name from its resemblance to a giant skull. But it also has another, scientific designation - NGC 246. It is located about 1600 light years from Earth. This nebula is the remnant of a long-dead star like the Sun. It was formed when this star shed its outer shell at the end of its evolution.

As a result, only its naked core, a white dwarf, remained of the star. Now it is one of two stars visible in the center of the object NGC 246. By the way, this is the first planetary nebula known to science around a triple star - a close stellar pair, around which a third companion orbits at a great distance.

"This nebula has been known for several centuries, but it was not until 2014 that astronomers with the VLT discovered that, in addition to the white dwarf and its companion, a third star lurks in the heart of the Skull Nebula, which is not visible in the above image," according to the ESO release. It is a dim red dwarf in the neighborhood of the white - at a distance from it, about 500 times greater than from the Earth to the Sun."

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