Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Cat's Eye Nebula

Credit: J. P. Harrington (U. Maryland) & K. J. Borkowski (NCU) HS, NASA
Explanation: Three thousand light-years away, a dying star throws off shells of glowing gas. This image from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the Cat's Eye Nebula to be one of the most complex planetary nebulae known. In fact, the features seen in the Cat's Eye are so complex that astronomers suspect the bright central object may actually be a binary star system. The term planetary nebula, used to describe this general class of objects, is misleading. Although these objects may appear round and planet-like in small telescopes, high resolution images reveal them to be stars surrounded by cocoons of gas blown off in the late stages of stellar evolution.

3 comments:

Tommy said...

Cool.

My kids like the Ring Nebula because it looks like "the precious" from The Lord of the Rings.

BTW, I got a new post up in which I deconstruct the Tower of Babel story. I like to think it is my best to date.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure this is not a pic of one of Drunken Tune's eyes after a heavy night on the turps?

Only joking! It's a truly spooky photograph.

Anonymous said...

Amazing - I've found my new desktop for the month of November. Thanks!