February 29, 2024

Death of a Sun-Like Star: Hubble Images Colorful Planetary Nebula

Credit: NASA, ESA, K. Knoll (NASA Goddard), and S. Öttl (Leopold Franzens Universität Innsbruck), et. al.; Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America).
NGC 2438 is a planetary nebula, formed after the death of a Sun-like star. NGC 2438 was one of the nebulae studied, and scientists discovered that the nebulas halo glows due to the ionizing radiation of the central white dwarf.
In this color-filled image, blue represents oxygen (O III), green is hydrogen (H-alpha), orange is nitrogen (N II), and red is sulfur (S II).
This Hubble Space Telescope image was caught by Hubbles Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, which gave it its distinctive stair-shape. One of the cameras 4 detectors supplied a magnified view, which would be shrunk down in the last image to match the other three, producing the distinct shape.

Credit: NASA, ESA, K. Knoll (NASA Goddard), S. Öttl (Leopold Franzens Universität Innsbruck), et. A previous video camera set up on Hubble, called the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), produced a “step” impact on many images. 3 of the cameras four light detectors imaged “broad fields,” while the fourth detector (PC for planetary electronic camera) had greater resolution but covered a smaller part of the sky.

The colorful planetary nebula, NGC 2438, appears to lie on the borders of the open star cluster, M46 (NGC 2437). The nebula is actually in the foreground between us and the star cluster. Credit: NASA, ESA, K. Knoll (NASA Goddard), S. Öttl (Leopold Franzens Universität Innsbruck), et. al., and DSS; Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America).
More Detail on “Missing” Blank Portions in Image.
A previous electronic camera set up on Hubble, called the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), produced a “action” result on numerous images. The dark areas or “missing” parts of those images are simply parts that have no Hubble information. 3 of the electronic cameras four light detectors imaged “wide fields,” while the 4th detector (PC for planetary electronic camera) had higher resolution however covered a smaller sized portion of the sky. With all four integrated, the “step” result resulted, indicating there are locations where Hubble observations were not taken.
WFPC2 was replaced during Hubbles last maintenance objective in 2009.