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Planetary nebula that looks like ‘holiday ornament in space’

IANS | London |

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured the image of a planetary nebula that looks like a colourful holiday ornament in space, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).

Planetary nebulae are one of the main ways in which elements heavier than hydrogen and helium are dispersed into space after their creation in the hearts of stars.

Eventually some of this out-flung material may form new stars and planets.

The nebula, NGC 6326, has glowing wisps of outpouring gas that are lit up by a central star nearing the end of its life, ESA said.

When a star ages and the red giant phase of its life comes to an end, it starts to eject layers of gas from its surface leaving behind a hot and compact white dwarf.

Sometimes this ejection results in elegantly symmetric patterns of glowing gas, but NGC 6326 is much less structured.

This object is located in the constellation of Ara, the Altar, about 11,000 light years from Earth, ESA said