The Helix Nebula is an example of a planetary nebula, or ‘planetary’ formed at the end of a star’s evolution. Gases from the star in the surrounding space appear, from our vantage point, as if we are looking down a helix structure. The remnant central stellar core, known as a planetary nebula nucleus or PNN, is destined to become a white dwarf star. The observed glow of the central star is so energetic that it causes the previously expelled gases to brightly fluoresce.
The Helix Nebula in the constellation of Aquarius lies about 700 light-years away, spanning about 0.8 parsec or 2.5 light-years. Recent images by the Hubble Space Telescope of the Helix Nebula are a composite of newly released images from the ACSinstrument and the wide-angle images from the Mosaic Camera on the WIYN 0.9-metre telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory.
Currently, the age is estimated to be 10,600+2,300
−1,200 years, based solely upon a measured expansion rate of 31 km·s−1.
Imaging telescopes or lenses: Ceravolo 300 Astrograph (f/9)
Imaging cameras: Apogee Alta U16M
Mounts: Astro-Physics AP900
Guiding telescopes or lenses: Ceravolo 300 Astrograph (f/9)
Guiding cameras: Starlight Xpress Lodestar
Software: Pleaides Astrophoto PixInsight 1.8, Maxim DL
Filters: Astrodon 3nm OIII, Astrodon E-series 2 LRGB, Astrodon 3nm Ha
Accessories: FLI Atlas focuser
Dates: Sept. 7, 2013
Integration: 48.0 hours
Author: Rick Stevenson
AstroPhotography of the day by SPONLI 29 May 2014