Ring Nebula

A nebula is a gas cloud of helium, hydrogen, dust particles and plasma. Nebula is a Latin word for “cloud”. A nebula is an illuminated area where stars are said to take birth. Nebulae are also responsible for the formation of diverse planets and their moons.

The Ring Nebula is famous for its ring like shape and scientists call it a giant donut in which everything is occupied in the center. Through the recent images of Nebula, researchers have been able to construct a three dimensional modal of this Nebula in order to understand its complex shape.

Location of Ring Nebula

Ring Nebula is located in the constellation Lyra, and is about 2,000 light years away from Earth. It has been found that the gaseous ring surrounds the central football shaped blue structure. The blue structure in the middle is actually Helium. The Nebula is tilted towards the Earth so the ringed face is seen from the Earth. The dwarf star in the middle of the ring sends off radiations which excites the Helium to glow, which can be seen from the Earth. The white dwarf has exhausted its hydrogen fuel and has collapsed shedding its outer layer of gas under gravitational pressure.

The image shows irregular knots of gas at the inner rim of the ring. The knots seem to be very strong and resistant to the ultraviolet light emitted from the star. Similar knots have been found in other nebulae as well.

Rings in this Nebula

It is assumed that the outer rings in this Nebula were formed when the fast moving gas collided with the slow moving material. The Nebula on the whole is expanding at a rapid pace of about 43,000 miles per hour, but the center is expanding much faster. The Ring Nebula is expected to continue expansion for another 10,000 years and through it scientists aim to understand our sun. But since our sun’s mass is far less than that of the central star fueling this nebula, sun might not end up like this nebula.

A scientist, O’Dell has said, “When the sun becomes a white dwarf, it will heat more slowly after it ejects its outer gaseous layers. The material will be farther away once it becomes hot enough to illuminate the gas. This larger distance means the sun’s nebula will be fainter because it is more extended.

Further investigations over this Ring Nebula will continue in future to open avenues for humans to explore vast realities in space.


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