About the Object

Distance: 2500 light years
Constellation: Lyra
Category: Nebulae
NIRCam

Coordinates

Position (RA):18 53 35.10
Position (Dec):33° 1' 43.54"
Field of view:2.09 x 1.62 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 140.1° right of vertical



Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Infrared1.62 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared2.12 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared3.0 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam
Infrared
PAH
3.35 μmJames Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam

Webb captures detailed beauty of Ring Nebula (NIRCam image - cropped)

The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope has observed the well-known Ring Nebula with unprecedented detail. Formed by a star throwing off its outer layers as it runs out of fuel, the Ring Nebula is an archetypal planetary nebula. Also known as M57 and NGC 6720, it is both relatively close to Earth at roughly 2,500 light-years away.

This new image provides unprecedented spatial resolution and spectral sensitivity. For example, the intricate details of the filament structure of the inner ring are particularly visible in this dataset.

There are some 20,000 dense globules in the nebula, which are rich in molecular hydrogen. In contrast, the inner region shows very hot gas. The main shell contains a thin ring of enhanced emission from carbon-based molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Roughly ten concentric arcs are located just beyond the outer edge of the main ring. The arcs are thought to originate from the interaction of the central star with a low-mass companion orbiting at a distance comparable to that between the Earth and the dwarf planet Pluto. In this way, nebulae like the Ring Nebula reveal a kind of astronomical archaeology, as astronomers study the nebula to learn about the star that created it.

[Image description: This image of the Ring Nebula appears as a distorted doughnut. The nebula’s inner cavity hosts shades of blue and green, while the detailed ring transitions through shades of orange in the inner regions and pink in the outer region. The ring’s inner region has distinct filament elements.]

Credit:

ESA/Webb, NASA, CSA, M. Barlow, N. Cox, R. Wesson

About the Image

Id: weic2320d
Type: Observation
Release date: 21 August 2023, 16:00
Size: 4001 x 3100 px


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