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Glowing ‘Ghost of a Star’ Captured By Chile’s Very Large Telescope

Planetary Nebula
This is the best view of the little-known object ESO 378-1 yet obtained and was captured by ESO’s Very Large Telescope in northern Chile. ESO

This glowing space bubble might look like something from Star Trek, but it's actually the remnants of a dying star, also known as a planetary nebula.

Officially called ESO 378-1, it's nicknamed the "Southern Owl Nebula" for its proximity in the night sky to the Owl Nebula. It stretches four light-years across, is located in the Hydra constellation, and was captured by the Very Large Telescope located in the extremely dry Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

Horsehead Nebula of a different color

Planetary nebulae are created by the ejected and expanding gas of their stars. The image was released on Wednesday by the European Southern Observatory, which poetically described it as an object "glowing like the ghost of a star in the haunting darkness of space."

While stars can live on for billions of years, planetary nebulae are flashes in the celestial pan, existing for only tens of thousands of years.

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Eventually the nebula will fade away, leaving the remains of the star to burn through its fuel until it becomes an incredibly dense and hot white dwarf.