Apr 10, 2014 11:02 AM by Stephen Bowers
A diamond ring in the sky, and it's only 2,500 light years away. Before you book that flight, realize that ONE light year is nearly 6 TRILLION miles!
As it turns out, this is not a diamond ring after all. It is a blob of gas in outer space called a planetary nebula. This planetary nebula is named Abell 33.
It is made up of gases blown off the from the outer layers of a star that was much like our sun, as Discovery News points out. At the core of the nebula the star-like material is emitting high amounts of ultraviolet radiation, which ionizes the gas to make it glow. The diamond, of course, is just a well-placed star.
This nebula has captured the attention of astronomers because nebulae are often not spherical. They are more often found in irregular shapes. The remnant star is likely working on becoming a white dwarf star.
The diamond ring nebula (Abell 33) is located within the constellation Hydra, which is a southern sky constellation. The image above was taken from the European Southern Observatory's VLT observatory, which is in the Atacama Desert in Chile atop the 8500-feet-high Cerro Paranal.