Blue Ring Nebula Geometry

Blue Ring Nebula Geometry

This animation shows the geometry of the Blue Ring Nebula, which is thought to be the product of two stars merging into one. The collision of the bodies ejected a cloud of hot debris into space. A disk of gas orbiting the larger star cut the cloud in half, creating two cones that are moving away from the star in opposite directions. The base of one cone is moving almost directly toward Earth, while the other is moving almost directly away. Some people see an optical illusion in this animation, in which the transparent cones seem to move away from each other and then back together; in actuality, the cones are fixed and the animation is showing what the nebula would look like if you could travel around it.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)

Release Date

November 18, 2020

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