Skip to main content

Star Death

Helix Nebula

As each slider bar is manipulated, the view transitions from visible light to near infrared light to mid infrared light. In visible light: Hot gas ejected from a dying star glows. In near infrared light: Near-infrared light reveals cooler material. In mid infrared light: Warm dust is identified in mid-infrared light. As each slider bar is manipulated, the view transitions from visible light to near infrared light to mid infrared light. In visible light: Hot gas ejected from a dying star glows. In near infrared light: Near-infrared light reveals cooler material. In mid infrared light: Warm dust is identified in mid-infrared light. As each slider bar is manipulated, the view transitions from visible light to near infrared light to mid infrared light. In visible light: Hot gas ejected from a dying star glows. In near infrared light: Near-infrared light reveals cooler material. In mid infrared light: Warm dust is identified in mid-infrared light.
Visible: Default View

Near Infrared:
LESS
MORE

Mid Infrared:
LESS
MORE

Helix Nebula

Stars like our Sun end their lives by casting off their outer layers, briefly forming a spectacular "planetary nebula" like the Helix Nebula. In visible light, we see the glow of hot gases illuminated by a hot, compact core, known as a "white dwarf." Shifting into the near-infrared reveals the glow of more complex molecules formed in the outer shell. The mid-infrared glow highlights the warm (bright red) dust surrounding the white dwarf.
Visible: Hot gas ejected from a dying star glows.
Near Infrared: Near-infrared light reveals cooler material.
Mid Infrared: Warm dust is identified in mid-infrared light.
CREDITS: Visible: NASA, NOAO, ESA, the Hubble Helix Nebula Team, M. Meixner (STScI), and T.A. Rector (NRAO). Near-infrared: ESO/VISTA/J. Emerson. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit. Mid-infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/K. Su (Univ. of Arizona).