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8 incredible images of dead and dying stars

By: Katherine Butler on April 17, 2012, 6:34 p.m.
Helix nebula

Photo: NASA

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An end of the Age of Aquarius

As NASA writes of this image of the Helix nebula, “Six hundred and fifty light-years away in the constellation Aquarius, a dead star about the size of Earth is refusing to fade away peacefully. In death, it is spewing out massive amounts of hot gas and intense ultraviolet radiation, creating a spectacular object called a planetary nebula.” Here, Helix is seen in false-color though NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. At the center of the image is the dead star that has collapsed into a white dwarf. White dwarfs are the hot, dim, compact leftovers of a star near the end of its life. Our sun is expected to become a white dwarf.