Not a Planet

This gorgeous image resembles an inky patch of space that has been smudged by a giant celestial thumbprint. Actually the object is a planetary nebula named PN M 2-53. It was imaged using the Gemini North telescope of the international Gemini Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab.

Planetary nebulae have a wildly misleading name, as they have nothing to do with planets — or even exoplanets. The misnomer originates from the late 1700s, when astronomers thought that the gaseous structures resembled planets. Planetary nebulae are actually formed by some dying stars, right at the end of their lives. The layers of gas and dust shed by the dying stars are lit by their remaining cores, creating a planetary nebula. Despite its inaccuracy, the name has stuck!

Credit:

International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA

Acknowledgements:
PI: Rafael Andrés Pignata (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba)
Image processing: T. A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage/NSF’s NOIRLab), J. Miller (Gemini Observatory/NSF's NOIRLab), M. Zamani & D. de Martin (NSF’s NOIRLab)

About the Image

Id:iotw2113a
Type:Observation
Release date:March 31, 2021, 4 p.m.
Size:2503 x 2000 px

About the Object

Name:PN M 2-53
Distance:12000 light years
Constellation:Lacerta
Category:Nebulae

Image Formats

Large JPEG
725.6 KB
Screensize JPEG
121.0 KB

Zoomable


Wallpapers

1024x768
139.2 KB
1280x1024
218.8 KB
1600x1200
316.4 KB
1920x1200
380.3 KB
2048x1536
502.0 KB

Coordinates

Position (RA):22 32 18.06
Position (Dec):56° 10' 25.21"
Field of view:2.77 x 2.21 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 90.0° left of vertical


Colors & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
OIII
499 nmGemini North
GMOS-N
Optical
SII
672 nmGemini North
GMOS-N
Optical
H-alpha
656 nmGemini North
GMOS-N