Crash Course Astronomy: White Dwarfs and Planetary Nebulae

One of my favorite planetary nebulae in the sky, Sh2-68, aka The Flaming Skull Nebula.
Photo by T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage) and H. Schweiker (WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF)

I’ll be honest: Every episode of Crash Course Astronomy has been fun to write, edit, and shoot. They all really have. But the past few episodes, and the next few to come, deal with one of my favorite topics in astronomy: What happens when a star decides to give up the ghost.

When stars die all sorts of fantabulous things happen: They explode, they leave behind bizarre ultradense objects, they fling gas into space that creates amazing and breathtaking shapes and colors.

This week, CCA is about what happens after stars like the Sun die: They become white dwarfs, and in the process blow out a series of winds that become one of the most beautiful sights in the sky: planetary nebulae.

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