Herschel image of the Helix Nebula using the SPIRE instrument at wavelengths around 250 micrometres, superimposed on Hubble image of the nebula. The spectrum corresponds to the outer region of the Helix Nebula outlined on the SPIRE image. It identifies the OH+ molecular ion, which is needed for the formation of water. ESA’s Herschel space observatory is the first to detect this molecule in planetary nebulas – the product of dying Sun-like stars.

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Herschel image of the Helix Nebula

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