Spherical nebula Nebulae in the Milky Way

Spherical nebula Nebulae in the Milky Way

One of the biggest spheres of our Galaxy provides valuable clues about the chemical composition of stars in their own way. The planetary nebula Abell 39, now six light years wide, was once the outer atmosphere of a Sun-like star expelled thousands of years ago.

The almost perfect spherical nature of Abell 39 allows astronomers to accurately estimate how much relative material is currently absorbing and emitting light. The observations indicate that Abell 39 contains only about half of the oxygen found in the Sun, an intriguing but not surprising confirmation of the chemical differences between the stars.

The reason why the central star is slightly displaced from the center 0.1 light years, is unknown to date. Abell 39 is approximately 7,000 light years away, although several galaxies can be seen across and around the nebula millions of light years away.

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Album: Photos of the Universe Gallery: Nebulae in the Milky Way