The Necklace Nebula: A Heavenly Jewel in Our Universe

Necklace Nebula By Hubble
Necklace Nebula by the Hubble Space Telescope. This is a composite image where the glow of hydrogen is seen as blue, oxygen appears as green, and nitrogen is red. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA). License: CC BY 2.0.

The Necklace Nebula, also known as PN G054.2-03.4, is a breathtakingly beautiful planetary nebula located approximately 15,000 light-years away from us. Its unique and intricate structure has earned it the name ‘necklace’, and it is truly a heavenly jewel in our universe. In this article, we will explore the fascinating characteristics and mysteries of this stunning celestial object.

What is the Necklace Nebula?

The Necklace Nebula is a planetary nebula, which means that it is the result of a star similar to our Sun that has reached the end of its life and has shed its outer layers. The name “Necklace” comes from the shape of the nebula, which resembles a string of pearls.

It is also known as PN G054.2-03.4 and was discovered as recently as 2005 by the Isaac Newton Telescope Photometric H-alpha Survey (IPHAS).

Necklace Nebula Location

The stunning Necklace Nebula is located in the northern constellation of Sagitta, an estimated 15,000 light-years away from Earth.

Sagitta Constellation Map IAU
Sagitta Constellation Map. Credit: IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg). License: CC BY 3.0.

Characteristics of the Necklace Nebula

The Necklace Nebula consists of a bright ring, measuring nearly 20 trillion kilometers across, with dense, bright knots of gas spread out in a way that resembles the diamonds in a necklace. The knots are not stars, they only glow due to the absorption of ultraviolet light from the two stars located in the center of the nebula.

History of the Formation of the Nebula

The nebula was created by a pair of stars orbiting very close together. About 10,000 years ago one of the aging stars swelled to the point that it enveloped its companion star. This caused the larger star to gain momentum and spin so fast that much of its gaseous envelope was ejected into space along the star’s equator due to centrifugal force. This produced a dense ring-shaped nebula. The glowing knots we can clearly see on the photograph are the densest gas clumps of the ring.

Due to this violent event both stars survived albeit with reduced sizes. They are closely orbiting around each other, completing an orbit in a little more than a day. For comparison, Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, takes 88 days to orbit the Sun. (Facts via NASA: Hubble Offers a Dazzling ‘Necklace’)


In short, the Necklace Nebula is truly an unforgettable celestial beauty that continues to captivate astronomers and stargazers alike. Its unique shape and intricate details make it a stunning jewel in our universe that never fails to impress.  Whether viewed through a telescope or admired in stunning images captured by space telescopes, the Necklace Nebula is a true wonder of the cosmos that reminds us of the beauty and majesty of the universe we call home.

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Paul Tomaszewski is a science & tech writer as well as a programmer and entrepreneur. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of CosmoBC. He has a degree in computer science from John Abbott College, a bachelor's degree in technology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and completed some business and economics classes at Concordia University in Montreal. While in college he was the vice-president of the Astronomy Club. In his spare time he is an amateur astronomer and enjoys reading or watching science-fiction. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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