IC 418 THE SPIROGRAPH NEBULA
Photo By: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the Hubble heritage Team (Links Below).
Located about 2000 light years away in the constellation Lepus is planetary nebula IC 418. A planetary nebula is a star that’s entered into the final stage of its life. This particular one is also known as the Spirograph Nebula because of its pattern, which resembles a geometric pattern created by a spirograph. Not much is known about the patterns themselves but while they are working toward a better understanding, we can enjoy its beauty.
As we know, a planetary nebula forms after a star has burned through most of its fuel and begins to grow into a red giant, thousands of years pass and the star then begins to release its outer layers of material into the cosmos where they quickly expand and begin the planetary phase. With the stars outer layers now gone, all that’s left is the incredibly hot inner core of the star, and that core now unabated by its outer shell floods the surrounding area with ultraviolet radiation (light) causing the surrounding stellar material to fluoresce. Eventually, the material will fade and all that will remain is a white dwarf star to remind us of what once was.
NAME: IC 418, Spirograph Nebula.
WHAT IS IT?: Planetary nebula (Dying star).
HOW BIG IS IT?: About 0.2 of a light year (Or 13,000 AU or 18 arcseconds) in diameter.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: About 2000 light years.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE?: About 9.6 (+9.6).
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Lepus (The Hare).
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 05h 27m 28.2s / DEC -12° 41′ 50.2”.
NASA Hubblesite page for IC 418: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/pr2000028a/
NASA News Center page for IC 418: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2000/28/
ESA Hubble page for IC 418: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/opo0028a/
NASA APOD page for IC 418: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap021214.html