The Hourglass Nebula is a tenuous cloud of gas formed by a star like the Sun at the end of its life. About 10 billion years after they are born, stars like the Sun becomes cooler, larger, and redder, producing what are known as "red giant" stars. As red giant stars age, they eventually cast off the outer layers of their surfaces. Ultraviolet light from the remaining stellar cores makes the surrounding material glow, producing what are known as "planetary" nebulae, like the Hourglass nebula. The Hourglass nebula is some 8000 light years away.

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