The life of a planetary nebula is often chaotic, from the death of its parent star to the scattering of its contents far out into space. Captured here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, ESO 455-10 is one such planetary nebula, located in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion).

The oblate shells of ESO 455-10, previously held tightly together as layers of its central star, not only give this planetary nebula its unique appearance, but also offer information about the nebula. Seen in a field of stars, the distinct asymmetrical arc of material over the north side of the nebula is a clear sign of interactions between ESO 455-10 and the interstellar medium.

The interstellar medium is the material such as diffuse gas between star systems and galaxies. The star at the center of ESO 455-10 allows Hubble to see the interaction with the gas and dust of the nebula, the surrounding interstellar medium, and the light from the star itself. Planetary nebulae are thought to be crucial in galactic enrichment as they distribute their elements, particularly the heavier metal elements produced inside a star, into the interstellar medium which will in time form the next generation of stars.

Text credit: European Space Agency (ESA)
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, L. Stanghellini

行星状星云的生命往往是混乱的,从其母恒星的死亡到其内容物向遥远的太空散射。这张照片是由NASA/ESA哈勃太空望远镜拍摄的,ESO 455-10就是这样一个行星状星云,位于天蝎座。

ESO 455-10的扁平外壳,以前作为其中心恒星的层状结构紧密地结合在一起,不仅赋予了这个行星状星云独特的外观,而且提供了星云的信息。在恒星的视野中,星云北侧明显的不对称物质弧是ESO 455-10与星际介质之间相互作用的明显标志。

星际介质是指恒星系统和星系之间的弥散气体等物质。位于ESO 455-10中心的恒星使哈勃望远镜能够看到星云的气体和尘埃、周围的星际介质以及恒星本身发出的光之间的相互作用。星云被认为是星系富集的关键,因为它们将其元素(尤其是恒星内部产生的较重的金属元素)分配到星际介质中,而星际介质最终将形成下一代恒星。

图片来源:ESA/Hubble和NASA,L. Stanghellini

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