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Planetary Nebula K 4-55


The Hubble community bids farewell to the soon to be decommissioned Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) onboard the Hubble Space Telescope. In tribute to Hubble's longest running optical camera, a planetary nebula has been imaged as WFPC2's final "pretty picture." This planetary nebula is known as Kohoutek 4-55 (or K 4-55). It is one of a series of planetary nebulae that were named after their discoverer, Czech astronomer Lubos Kohoutek. A planetary nebula contains the outer layers of a red giant star that were expelled into interstellar space when the star was in the late stages of its life. Ultraviolet radiation emitted from the remaining hot core of the star ionizes the ejected gas shells, causing them to glow.



In the specific case of K 4-55, a bright inner ring is surrounded by a bipolar structure. The entire system is then surrounded by a faint red halo, seen in the emission by nitrogen gas. This multi-shell structure is fairly uncommon in planetary nebulae.


Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

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