NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory contributes to the understanding of planetary nebulas by studying the hottest and most energetic processes still at work in these beautiful objects.
X-ray data from Chandra reveal winds being driven away from the white dwarf so quickly (i.e., millions of miles per hour) that they create shock waves during collisions with slower-moving material previously ejected by the star.

Chandra’s exceptional vision in X-rays contributes to the understanding of this brief, yet important, stage of stars’ lives. Here is the IC 418 planetary nebula that has been observed both by Chandra and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/ESA/AURA/STScI