NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2 April 2023: Hubble Telescope captures Ring Nebula

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day for 2nd April features a stunning image of a Ring Nebula captured by Hubble Space Telescope.

| Updated on: Apr 02 2023, 14:17 IST
Best NASA Astronomy Pictures of the Week: Aurora, Green flash sunset, Nebula and more
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1/5 Geomagnetic storm sparks auroras (March 27) - Millions of people in the US witnessed the magnificent Northern Lights triggered by a strong geomagnetic storm, which served as the catalyst. Even NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day for March 27 is dedicated to a mesmerizing view of an Aurora over the Arctic. (NASA/Cari Letelier)
Green flash sunset
2/5 Rare Green Flash Sunset (March 28) - It is a fascinating snapshot of a multiple green flash sunset captured from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile last April. As the Sun sets on the horizon and disappears from view during sunset, sometimes a green flash may appear. (NASA/T. Slovinský/P. Horálek/CTIO)
Dolphin nebula
3/5 Dolphin-Head Nebula (March 29) - It is the Dolphin-Head nebula, located about 5000 light-years away from Earth towards the constellation of Canis Major, also known as the Big Dog. This weirdly fascinating nebula is about 70000 years old and spans almost 60 light-years across, as per NASA. The Dolphin-Head nebula has been catalogued as Sh2-308. (NASA/Aleix Roig (AstroCatInfo))
 Globular Star Cluster NGC 6355
4/5 Globular star cluster and Dark Doodad Nebula (March 30) - It is the Dark Doodad Nebula which lies beside the globular star cluster NGC 4372. Also known as Caldwell 108, the globular star cluster is located about 19000 light-years away in the constellation Musca. It was discovered in 1826 by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop from his observation post in Australia. (NASA/ESA/Hubble Telescope)
5/5 Saturn's Moon Titan (March 31) - It is a snapshot showing 6 faces of Titan. Titan has a radius of about 2575 kilometers and is nearly 50 percent wider than Earth's moon. Saturn's icy moon is about 1.2 million kilometers away from Saturn, which itself is about 1.4 billion kilometers from the Sun. (NASA/ESA/VIMS Team)
Ring Nebula
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The Ring Nebula is located in the Lyra constellation, about one light-year across and 2,500 light-years away. (NASA)

Stargazers must have noticed an unusual ring-shaped pattern in the sky for so many years and it is called a nebula, which is a cluster of gas and dust in space. Nebulas are often the birthplaces of new stars and planetary systems, as the gravitational attraction between the particles within the nebula causes them to collapse and form into denser regions. Today, NASA has shared a breathtaking image of the famous Ring Nebula (M57) captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

While sharing the photo, NASA explained about the Ring Nebula, "the recent mapping of the expanding nebula's 3-D structure, based in part on this clear Hubble image, indicates that the nebula is a relatively dense, donut-like ring wrapped around the middle of an (American) football-shaped cloud of glowing gas." The gaseous shroud in the image represents the outer layers expelled from the dying, once sun-like star, now a tiny pinprick of light seen at the nebula's center. Intense ultraviolet light from the hot central star ionizes atoms in the gas. The Ring Nebula is about one light-year across and 2,500 light-years away.

More about the Ring Nebula

Located in the Lyra constellation, the Ring Nebula is a planetary nebula that represents the remaining glowing material of a star similar to the sun. The best time to observe it is during August, and it has an apparent magnitude of 8.8, which can be seen using moderately sized telescopes, NASA explained. Discovered by Antoine Darquier de Pellepoix, a French astronomer in 1779, M57 is positioned in such a way that Earth-based astronomers view the ring face-on. The space agency further explained that with the help of a high-resolution Hubble image, astronomers discovered that the nebula's shape is more intricate than initially assumed.

The blue gas at the centre of the nebula is actually shaped like a football seen end-on, and it pierces through the doughnut-shaped, red material. The ring's inner rim exhibits a complex structure of dark, irregular knots of dense gas, forming spokes like a bicycle. These knots and tails have not yet been blown away by the stellar winds.

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First Published Date: 02 Apr, 14:17 IST