The Virtual Amateur Astronomer®, Image of the Ring Nebula, Internet Astronomy by Jupiter Scientific
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A Planetary Nebula

     Adjacent to the constellation Hercules is the constellation Lyra. Between Beta Lyrae and Gamma Lyrae is the famous Ring Nebula, M57:
image ring nebula
About 7000 years ago, the outermost part of a star exploded emitting a hot toriodal ring of hot gas, which became the Ring Nebula. At the center of the nebula is the 15th magnitude star, which is too faint to see in our telescope. The Ring Nebula is about 2000 light-years away and is half-a-light-year in diameter. Nebula that are created by a star blowing away its outer envelop are called planetary nebula.

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