Resources
Q & A
Glossary
Acronym Guide
Further Reading
Outside the Site
Google Sky
WWT
Facebook
Youtube
Vimeo
Twitter
Flickr
Pinterest
Multimedia, Etc
Images/Illustrations
Animation & Video
Special Features
Chandra Podcasts
Chandra Mobile
Desktop Images
The Big Chandra Picture
High Res Prints
Presentations
Handouts
Screen Savers
Audio
Web Shortcuts
Chandra Blog
RSS Feed
Chandra Mobile
Chronicle
Email Newsletter
News & Noteworthy
Image Use Policy
Questions & Answers
Glossary of Terms
Download Guide
Get Adobe Reader
Q&A: Normal Stars, White Dwarf Stars, and Star Clusters

Q:
The term "Planetary Nebula" seems misleading. Why are they called that?

A:
Planetary Nebula Mz 3
Planetary Nebula Mz 3
The definition of the term "planetary nebula" is historically correct, but the term is a misnomer. Some planetary nebulas appeared to look like giant planets, specifically Uranus, when viewed through a small telescope by William Herschel, who coined the term. Astronomy is a very old field of study, so historical artifacts like this are not rare.

Planetary nebulas are really shells of gas cast off by evolved, Sun-like stars. The Sun should experience this phase in a few billion years.

Back | Index | Next