The Ring Nebula, 1998.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society
The NASA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the sharpest view yet of the most famous of all planetary nebulae, the Ring Nebula (M57). In this October 1998 image, the telescope has looked down a barrel of gas cast off by a dying star thousands of years ago. This photo reveals elongated dark clumps of material embedded in the gas at the edge of the nebula; the dying central star floating in a blue haze of hot gas. The nebula is about a light-year in diameter and is located some 2,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Lyra. The colors are approximately true colours.