Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) is one of the closest planetary nebulae to Earth. It lies 140 parsecs or 450 light-years from Earth in the Aquarius constellation and has an angular diameter of about 0.5°.
The Helix Nebula is an example of a planetary nebula created at the end of the life of a Sun-like star. The outer gases of the star expelled into space appear from our vantage point as if we are looking down a helix. The remnant central stellar core, destined to become a white dwarf star, glows in light so energetic that it causes the previously expelled gas to fluoresce.
Helix lies about 650 light-years away towards the constellation of Aquarius and spans about 2.5 light-years. Recent pictures of Helix are a composite of newly released images from the ACS instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope and wide-angle images from the Mosaic Camera on the WIYN 0.9-m Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory.
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