NASA’s space telescope took the photo from an approximate distance of 10,000 light-years or 58,786,254,000,000,000 miles away. NGC 2818 is a so-called planetary nebula, shaped by the explosion of a dying star. The nebula sits in the southern constellation of Pyxis the Compass. Pyxis is a small and faint constellation visible in the night skies next to constellation Puppis and Hydra.
NASA said: “The spectacular structure of the planetary nebula contains the outer layers of a star that were expelled into interstellar space.”
When a star nearing the end of its life runs out of fuel, it can no longer sustain its nuclear reactions.
As a result, the star collapses on itself and explodes in a spectacular fashion.
The explosion sheds the stars outer layers and casts them over a wide region of space around the dying star.
In approximately 4.5 billion years – the current age of the Earth – our very own Sun will undergo a similar death.
NASA said: “The glowing gaseous shrouds in the nebula were shed by the central star after it ran out of fuel to sustain the nuclear reactions in its core.
“Our own Sun will undergo a similar process, but not for another five billion years or so.
“Planetary nebulae fade gradually over tens of thousands of years.
“The hot, remnant stellar core of NGC 2818 will eventually cool off for billions of years as a white dwarf.”
Despite its suggestive name, planetary nebulas like NGC 2182 have nothing to do with planets.
Instead, their name reflects their more-or-less round shapes.
These nebulas are densely packed with stellar material, bound together by the gravities of hundreds of thousands to millions of stars.
NASA’s Hubble snapped this image of the glowing nebula in November 2008 using the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.
Colours were then added to the image to represent different emissions from the gassy clouds.
Red hues represent nitrogen gas, blue represents oxygen and green represents hydrogen.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a joint operated by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).