2020-04-02/11 / Click on image to enlarge
The Owl Nebula, M97 or NGC3587, is a planetary nebula located in the constallation Ursa Major, approximately 2,600 light-years away from Earth. It is known for its distinctive shape, resembling a pair of owl-like eyes, that can be seen in larger telescopes. Planetary nebulae are relatively short-lived phenomenons, lasting only a few tens of thousands of years, compared to a typical stellar lifetime of several billion years. The Owl Nebula was created by the ejected and expanding gas of dying star about 8,000 years ago. As the outer layers were gradually blown off over thousands of years, the leftover stellar remnant will burn for another billion years before consuming all its remaining fuel. It will then become a tiny, hot and very dense white dwarf that will slowly cool over billions of years. The Owl Nebula is a good example of what will be the fate of our Sun in roughly 5 Billion years.