A planetary nebula
with a simple symmetry familiar to
telescopic sky gazers, the Ring Nebula (M57)
is some 2,000 light-years
away in the musical constellation Lyra.
Hints of changing colors and subtle details are brought out in
this remarkable sketch
of the cosmic ring.
The sketch was made with 800x magnification and
excellent seeing conditions directly
at the eyepiece of
a 40 inch reflecting telescope.
Colored pencils on white paper were used to create the original
drawing, shown here digitally scanned with an inverted palette applied.
About one light-year across, the nebula is composed
of outer layers expelled from a dying, once sun-like star.
Intense ultraviolet light from the hot central star
ionizes atoms in the gas and powers the nebular glow.
Ionized hydrogen adds a reddish tint.
Ionized oxygen produces a characteristic blue-green color.
Difficult to see
under average conditions with small telescopes, the
central star was visible at all times during the artist's study.
Credit & Copyright: