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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Astronomy Picture of the Day

NGC 6888: The Crescent Nebula

NGC 6888, also known as the Crescent Nebula, is a cosmic bubble about 25 light-years across, blown by winds from its central, bright, massive star. 

This colorful portrait of the nebula uses narrow band image data combined in the Hubble palatte. It shows emission from sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms in the wind-blown nebula in red, green and blue hues.

NGC 6888's central star is classified as a Wolf-Rayet star (WR 136).

The star is shedding its outer envelope in a strong stellar wind, ejecting the equivalent of the Sun's mass every 10,000 years.

The nebula's complex structures are likely the result of this strong wind interacting with material ejected in an earlier phase.

Burning fuel at a prodigious rate and near the end of its stellar life this star should ultimately go out with a bang in a spectacular supernova explosion.

Found in the nebula rich constellation Cygnus, NGC 6888 is about 5,000 light-years away.

NGC 6888: The Crescent Nebula 
Image Credit & CopyrightJ-P Metsävainio (Astro Anarchy)