The Egg Nebula, a protoplanetary nebula 3,000 light-years away. Composite by Jason Major.
This is an interesting object: it’s called the Egg Nebula, a protoplanetary nebula located in our galaxy 3,000 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. Here, an opaque cloud of dust and gas hides a central star that’s expelling its outer layers. Beams of the star’s light escape the cloud through holes, illuminating the layers.
This image is a color-composite I made from image data acquired by the ACS/WFC instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope in near-infrared and optical wavelengths in October 2016 (Principal Investigator: Dean Hines). I downloaded the publicly-available data in FITS format from the Space Telescope Science Institute’s MAST archive and processed the final color results via Photoshop.
See more of my Hubble image processings on my Flickr album here.
Protoplanetary nebulae are rare cosmic beasts as they are relatively short-term parts of stellar life cycles, lasting only a few thousand years (or as little as 100.) Eventually the core star will stop expelling its outer layers, heat up, and become a planetary nebula.
Altogether the Egg Nebula is a little over a light-year across, or about the same diameter of the Solar System including ...