NGC 7293 – Aqr

NGC 7293, the "Helix" Nebula

NGC 7293, the “Helix” Nebula

Among the most famous deep sky objects, NGC 7293 is the closest (and one of the largest) planetary nebulae in the sky . Discovered in 1824 by K. L. Harding, it is nicknamed “Helix” because of its structure and it is placed at about 700 light years from us.

Planetary nebulae are the signature of dying stars similar in mass to that of the Sun: the gas making the nebular structure was ejected by the central star, now becoming a white dwarf.

The image above is the average of five, 300-seconds exposures, remotely taken with the PlaneWave 17″ + Paramount ME + SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope. A H-alpha filter by Baader Planetarium was used. The image was only gentle processed to preserve the delicate structure of the nebula.

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