Robert L. Hurt
The Infrared Helix Nebula. 2007

Astrophotograph; Space Telescope; Infrared Array Camera (IRAC); color assignments: 3.6 microns (blue), 4.5 microns (green), 5.8 microns (orange), 8.0 microns (red)

Spitzer Science Center, Pasadena, California, United States

This infrared image created from NASAís Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Helix Nebula, a cosmic starlet often photographed by amateur astronomers for its vivid colors and eerie resemblance to a giant eye. These peculiar clouds are the blown-off remains of a star that was once in the galaxy and believed to be similar to our own Sun. The blues and greens show the glow of a variety of elements expelled with the starís outer envelope, while the reds show longer wavelength infrared radiation emanating from dust particles closer to the inner stellar corpse, or white dwarf.

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