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Planetary Nebulae

A bright, colorful shell of gas and dust surrounding a star in the last stages of life. A planetary nebula is created when the star puffs off its outer atmosphere. The nebula usually looks like a doughnut, sometimes with the small, hot, rapidly evolving star visible in the center. The Ring Nebula (M57) in the constellation Lyra is an example.

Radio Programs

Big Changes A Sun-like star picks up the pace June 16, 2017

Planetary Nebulae A star’s colorful demise June 15, 2017

Butterfly Nebula A short-lived celestial butterfly August 6, 2016

Cat’s Eye Sculpting a celestial work of art April 9, 2016

Blue Snowball An electric-blue wake in the evening sky September 29, 2015

Future Outbursts Setting up future outbursts July 23, 2015

Bread Crumbs Leaving a trail of breadcrumbs July 22, 2015

Cat’s Eye Nebula The true nature of a glowing cat’s eye August 28, 2014

Dumbbell Nebula A blaze of color for a dying star July 11, 2014

Dumbbell Nebula A colorful final act September 23, 2013

Cat’s Eye Nebula A star that’s changing form March 12, 2012

Featured Images

Visible and infrared image of Ring Nebula

Blowing Bubbles June 15, 2017

False-color image of the Boomerang Nebula, which is being created by a dying star

Cold Death June 7, 2017

Universal Chemistry March 6, 2017

NGC 6543, the Cat's Eye Nebula

Pure Artistry April 9, 2016

Planetary nebula known as the Eskimo Nebula

Cyclops? November 29, 2015

Hubble view of NGC 7662, a planetary nebula

Blue Snowball September 30, 2015

The Southern Owl Nebula, the last gasp of a dying star

Perfect Bubble August 5, 2015

Abell 78, a planetary nebula

Last Round July 28, 2015

The system V664 Cassiopeia is creating a planetary nebula

Bread Crumbs July 23, 2015

Cat's Eye Nebula from Hubble Space Telescope

Colorful Demise August 29, 2014

False-color image of M27, the Dumbbell Nebula

Last Gasp July 12, 2014

Dumbbell Nebula, M27

Grand Finale September 24, 2013

Infrared/ultraviolet view of Helix Nebula

Colorful Demise October 23, 2012

Planetary nebula R Leporis

Stellar Twister October 11, 2012

Beams of light shine through the Egg Nebula

Stellar Headlights May 1, 2012

Hubble Space Telescope view of Cat's Eye Nebula, a planetary nebula

Blowing Bubbles March 13, 2012

The Saturn Nebula, NGC 7009, as seen by Hubble Space Telescope

Saturn Simulacrum November 13, 2011

The Necklace Nebula, the remains of a dying star in Sagittarius

Ring of Fire August 15, 2011

Infrared view of planetary nebula NGC 4361 in Corvus

Cotton-Candy Star April 3, 2011

Ultraviolet image of the region around the Ghost of Jupiter Nebula

Astronomical Ghost October 31, 2010

Messier 27

Heavy Lifting August 7, 2010