The ghostly remains of a star that lived and died are on display in a new image from the European Southern Observatory (ESO). Captured by their Very Large Telescope, the object in question—called the Southern Owl Nebula (or ESO 378-1 and PLN 283+25.1, less formally)—can be found just 3,500 light-years from Earth in the Hydra constellation.
By nature, the Southern Owl Nebula belongs to the planetary nebula family, which spans to include all nebular regions created after Sun-like stars expelled their gaseous innards. From beginning to end, the process takes around 10 billion years (more or less, depending on the star’s mass), not including post-main-sequence life.
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