Viewing some of the spectacular images from outer space is exciting, to me, always. I was browsing the web, coming across various astonomy-related sites, and I stoppped at one that is set up by N.A.S.A.. Here, I got to view photos of IC 418, The Spirograph Nebula.
Designated as IC 418, The Spirograph Nebula exists at a distance that is roughly 2,000 light years from our Planet Earth. It is situated within the constellation Lepus, The Hare. This nebula contains the stars Nihal (Beta Lepus), Gamma Leporis, Hind’s Crimson Star (R Leporis), and M 79.
The Spirograph Nebula is labeled as a Planetary Nebula. It has this designation because it appears as if it is a planet, when viewed through telescopes. Actually, it represents a star which has reached the final stages of it’s life. The star was a red giant, and it ejected it’s outer layers roughly 3,000 years ago. Now, a stellar core remains, which is enveloped by gas, and continously expels ultraviolet radiation. The release of this UV radiation causes The Spirograph Nebula to glow!
The nebula has a seeming structure that current astronomers do not recognize. It’s shape could be the result of unstable winds that blow off of the star at the center of the nebula. This star is strange because it’s level of luminosity seems to vary by the hour! The central star is believed to be a G-type main sequence star, just like our Sun.
It was 1891 when astronomer Williamina Fleming discovered this nebula. She worked at Harvard College Observatory, from where details of her findings were sent to Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland. The official designation of PH 215-24 was given to The Spirograph Nebula by John Louis Dreyer, the director of Armagh Observatory. He gave credits of the nebula’s discovery to Professor Edward Charles Pickering, who directed The Harvard College Observatory. Professor Pickering was responsible for the actual registration of PH 215-24 within the scientific community, and with The Royal Astronomical Society.
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R.I.P. Don Cornelius 1936-2012!