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A Halo for NGC 6164

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu May 22, 2014 7:35 am via: NASA
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Beautiful emission nebula NGC 6164 was created by a rare, hot, luminous O-type star, some 40 times as massive as the Sun. Seen at the center of the cosmic cloud, the star is a mere 3 to 4 million years old. In another three to four million years the massive star will end its life in a supernova explosion.

Spanning around 4 light-years, the nebula itself has a bipolar symmetry. That makes it similar in appearance to more common and familiar planetary nebulae – the gaseous shrouds surrounding dying sun-like stars. Also like many planetary nebulae, NGC 6164 has been found to have an extensive, faint halo, revealed in this deep telescopic image of the region.

Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Pugh & Rick Stevenson

Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Pugh & Rick Stevenson

Expanding into the surrounding interstellar medium, the material in the halo is likely from an earlier active phase of the O star. The gorgeous skyscape is a composite of extensive narrow-band image data, highlighting glowing atomic hydrogen gas in red and oxygen in blue hues, with broad-band data for the surrounding starfield. NGC 6164 is 4,200 light-years away in the right-angled southern constellation of Norma.

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