Monday, March 7, 2011

Hubble revisits proto-planetary nebula CRL 618

"Observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope show a previously unknown richness of detail in the intriguing proto-planetary nebula CRL 618. CRL 618 is a superb example of the transition taking place in the later stages of the life of a star like the Sun after it has lost most of its mass and before it emerges as a fully-fledged butterfly-like planetary nebula. CRL 618 is evolving so rapidly that we can literally watch through Hubble's eyes the hatching of one of these heavenly butterflies from its dusty cocoon. This snapshot of cosmic evolution provides important clues for current theories of the origin and evolution of planetary nebulae."

The top image was taken by Hubble first, and the next and more recent observation is supposed to be far more detailed. Which do you like more? Post a comment. Personally I prefer the color and composition in the older image, but for the sake of science clearly it is not quite as good. Because this is Hubble, it looks as if this object is quite small indeed. If Hubble can only get it this sharp, we need to get JWST on the job also!

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