This is Abell 24, a planetary nebula located in the constellation of Canis Minor (The Lesser Dog).
It is a burst of gas and dust created when a star dies and throws its outer layers into space – and it actually has nothing to do with planets. The term was coined back in a time of low-resolution astronomy, when nebulous objects appeared to resemble giant planets.
Taken with the European Space Agency’s FORS (FOcal Reducer and Spectrograph) instrument, it is part of the Cosmic Gems program, an ESO initiative to produce images of scientifically interesting and visually attractive objects for the purposes of education and public outreach.
The program makes use of telescope time that cannot be used for science observations.
Originally published by Cosmos as Red and very dead
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