Abell 43: This is a very small (about 85 arcseconds by 80 arcseconds) and dim (magnitude 14.7) planetary nebula in the constellation Ophiuchus. A "planetary nebula" (so called because
the astronomer who first identified them as nebulae noted the color was similar to the then recently-discovered Neptune) is a structure of gas resulting from the death throes of a star about the size of our
sun, when it runs out of fusable material; the color is the result of the gas being ionized by the remnant of the star, a white dwarf (ionize oxygen is the dominant emission in this planetary nebulae,
giving off the characteristic blue-green color). Due to its roughly spherical shape and extensive web of tendrils weaving through it, it has some resemablance to a ghostly soccer ball, hence its
nickname "Galactic Soccer Ball." It is estimated to be approximately 7000 light years from earth, which would give it a diameter of about 2.5 light years.
Copyright 2020 Mark de Regt