Monday, May 30, 2022

The planetary nebula Abell 7

The planetary nebula Abell 7 is located about 1,800 light-years from us (Image: Reproduction/Donald Waid, Ron Dilulio)

This is the planetary nebula Abell 7, located almost 1,800 light-years from us towards the constellation Lepus, the Hare. With a spherical shape and diffuse brightness, Abell 7 is approximately 8 light-years in diameter and has some interesting details inside, which stand out when observed by instruments equipped with narrowband filters.

 Among them are the reddish emissions from hydrogen gas, while the blue and green tones come from oxygen emissions. Together, these colors give the Abell 77 a colorful and fascinating appearance, which could hardly be seen with the naked eye as it is too diffused.

Planetary nebulae are regions of gas and dust coming from the layers expelled by stars that have reached the end of their lives; therefore, despite what the name seems to imply, they have nothing to do with planets. The "confusion" of the nomenclature has its roots in the past: 250 years ago, astronomers observed these objects with smaller powerful telescopes, and considered their colors to belong to gaseous planets. 

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