Beautiful or haunting? Hubble Space Telescope captures an ageing star’s gaseous glowhttps://indianexpress.com/article/technology/science/nasa-hubble-space-telescopes-snaps-an-ageing-star-emitting-a-gaseous-glow-5916773/

Beautiful or haunting? Hubble Space Telescope captures an ageing star’s gaseous glow

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has spotted NGC 2022, a massive orb of gas in space that is cast off by an elderly star. Here is what it means.

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The Hubble Space Telescope spotted NGC 2022, a massive orb of gas emitted by an elderly star. (Image source: ESA/Hubble and NASA, R Wade)

NASA and European Space Agency’s (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a star’s gaseous glow, which is open to be perceived as both beautiful and haunting. They have named the rounded object NGC 2022, which is a vast orb of gas in space, cast off by an ageing star.

The elderly star is located in the constellation of Orion (the Hunter), NASA said. In the image, the star is visible in the orb’s centre. It shines through the gases it used to hold onto for most of its life in the past.

Why the star is emitting the gaseous glow

When stars like the Sun get older, they expand and glow red. These “red giants” then begin to lose their outer layers of material into space. More than half of such a star’s mass can be shed in this way, forming a shell of surrounding gas.

While that is going on the outside, the ageing star’s core becomes smaller and hotter. The shrunk core then starts to emit ultraviolet light that causes the expelled gases to glow as a result.

According to NASA, the rounded object with gaseous glow is called a planetary nebula. However, it has nothing to do with planets. The name planetary nebula derives from the rounded, planet-like appearance of these objects in early telescopes.

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Earlier, the Hubble Telescope captured two galaxies colliding. It was able to capture mutual gravitational attraction between the Northern Galaxy UGC 2369 (UGC 2369N) and the Southern Galaxy UGC 2369 (UGC 2369S).