A Fleeting Moment in Time

The faint, ephemeral glow emanating from the planetary nebula ESO 577-24 persists for only a short time  — around 10,000 years, a blink of an eye in astronomical terms. ESO’s Very Large Telescope captured this shell of glowing ionised gas — the last breath of the dying star whose simmering remains are visible at the heart of this image. As the gaseous shell of this planetary nebula expands and grows dimmer, it will slowly disappear from sight.

This stunning planetary nebula was imaged by one of the VLT’s most versatile instruments, FORS2. The instrument captured the bright, central star, Abell 36, as well as the surrounding planetary nebula. The red and blue portions of this image correspond to optical emission at red and blue wavelengths, respectively.

An object much closer to home is also visible in this image — an asteroid wandering across the field of view has left a faint track below and to the left of the central star. And in the far distance behind the nebula a glittering host of background galaxies can be seen.

Credit:

ESO

About the Image

Id:eso1902a
Type:Observation
Release date:22 January 2019, 12:00
Related releases:eso1902
Size:1609 x 1751 px

About the Object

Name:ESO 577-24
Type:Milky Way : Nebula : Type : Planetary
Constellation:Virgo
Category:Nebulae

Image Formats

Large JPEG
842.1 KB
Screensize JPEG
310.1 KB

Coordinates

Position (RA):13 40 41.37
Position (Dec):-19° 53' 6.74"
Field of view:6.76 x 7.36 arcminutes
Orientation:North is -0.0° left of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
OIII
500 nmVery Large Telescope
FORS2
Optical
B
440 nmVery Large Telescope
FORS2
Optical
V
557 nmVery Large Telescope
FORS2
Optical
R
655 nmVery Large Telescope
FORS2
Optical
H-alpha
656 nmVery Large Telescope
FORS2

 

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