NGC 3132 SYSTEM
NGC 3132 SYSTEM
NGC 3132 (also known as the Southern Ring Nebula) is a very bright, asymmetric planetary nebula of approximately 0.4 light-year across.
When a star with a mass up to eight times that of the Sun approaches the end of its life, it blows off its outer shells and begins to lose mass. This allows the hot, inner core of the star to radiate strongly, causing this outward-moving cocoon of gas to glow brightly as a planetary nebula.
Over the next several thousand years, the nebula will gradually disperse into space, and then the star will cool and fade away for billions of years as a white dwarf.
Last Revision: 21 Jan 2017
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