planetary nebula


Definition of planetary nebula

: a usually compact luminous ring-shaped nebula that is composed of matter which has been ejected from a hot star at its center

Examples of planetary nebula in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Using the organization’s Very Large Telescope (real name) in Chile, the ESO captured a planetary nebula made up of beautiful blue, red, purple, and pink colored clouds of dust and gas in space, CNN reported. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "Stunning Nebula Thousands of Lightyears Away Looks Like a Psychedelic Space Butterfly," 3 Aug. 2020 This planetary nebula isn't long for this universe. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "See the 'space butterfly' astronomers captured from thousands of light years away," 2 Aug. 2020 Yet in 2010, a quarter of a century after their initial discovery in the laboratory, C60 and its cousin C70 were observed in the infrared in planetary nebula Tc1 in the constellation Cygnus. Ryan C. Fortenberry, Scientific American, "The First Molecule in the Universe," 1 Feb. 2020 It's long been known that most stars wind up producing a planetary nebula, but astronomers thought the sun — a ball of superheated gas with a diameter 109 times that of Earth — was too small to form a visible nebula. David Freeman /, NBC News, "Now we know what will happen when the sun dies," 10 May 2018 Even stars that are just a few percent less massive than the sun will not produce a planetary nebula. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "The Sun Will Produce a Beautiful Planetary Nebula When It Dies," 9 May 2018 That’s the Stingray Nebula, considered the youngest planetary nebula—a title given to nebulae born of a dying star—which became visible late last century. National Geographic, "The Giant Squid Nebula and More Animals of the Cosmos," 20 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'planetary nebula.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of planetary nebula

1785, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about planetary nebula

Time Traveler for planetary nebula

Time Traveler

The first known use of planetary nebula was in 1785

See more words from the same year

Statistics for planetary nebula

Cite this Entry

“Planetary nebula.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on planetary nebula Encyclopedia article about planetary nebula

Comments on planetary nebula

What made you want to look up planetary nebula? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!