About 10,000 light years away, in the constellation Centaurus, is a planetary nebula called NGC 5307. A planetary nebula is the remnant of a star like our Sun, when it has reached what can be described as the end of its life. This Hubble image of NGC 5307 not only makes you wonder about the star’s past, it makes you ponder the future of our very own Sun.
The process of a star aging and reaching the end of its life is a long, slow story, punctuated with episodes of rapid change. Just like NGC 5307 did, our Sun will eventually become a red giant, casting off its outer layers of gas. Some billions of years in the future, it will itself become a white dwarf, lighting up the layers of gas it shed as a planetary nebula.
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