NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured the infrared view of what’s called a planetary nebula, which is a cloud of material expelled by a burnt out star, called a white dwarf. This object is named the Dumbbell nebula, also known as Messier 27. The Dumbbell nebula is 1,360 light-years away in the Vulpecula constellation, and stretches across 4.5 light-years of space. Spitzer’s infrared view shows a different side of this recycled stellar material. The diffuse green glow, which is brightest near the center, is probably from hot gas atoms being heated by the ultraviolet light from the central white dwarf. A collection of clumps fill the central part of the nebula, and red-colored radial spokes extend well beyond. Astronomers think these features represent molecules of hydrogen gas, mixed with traces of heavier elements.
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