For an elderly star’s last gasp, it belches a gassy bubble that shines like a Day-Glo balloon. Using the Very Large Telescope in Chile, scientists at the European Southern Observatory snapped a picture of one dying star’s shimmering shell: a planetary nebula dubbed IC 1295.
The distant, old star — located about 3,300 light-years away in the constellation Scutum — is probably billions of years old. But on a human scale, it still has a lot of life to live. The old-timer’s colorful orb will twinkle for at least 10,000 more years.
Depending on which chemicals form the gaseous shell, a star’s planetary nebula can glimmer a rainbow of candy-colored hues. For this nebula, oxygen paints the bubble a brilliant glowing green.