Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

December 25, 1998

Nebulae For Christmas
Credit: Howard Bond (STScI), NASA

Explanation: If our Galaxy were a Christmas tree, planetary nebulae would adorn it like colourful lighted ornaments twinkling on a cosmic scale. Glowing shrouds of gas ejected by red giant stars, planetary nebulae like NGC 6578 (left) and IC 3568 last for a mere 10,000 years or so as swollen stellar giants are transformed into fading, cooling white dwarf stars. Meanwhile ... have a safe, happy holiday season and Best Wishes to all from APOD!

Tomorrow's picture: Gamma-ray Quasar

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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&: Michigan Tech. U.