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The Cat's Eye Nebula, 1994.

The Cat's Eye Nebula, 1994.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 32cm


This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image shows one of the most complex planetary nebulae ever seen, NGC 6543, nicknamed the 'Cat's Eye Nebula.' Hubble reveals surprisingly intricate structures including concentric gas shells, jets of high-speed gas and unusual Lock-induced knots of gas. Estimated to be 1,000 years old, the nebula is a visual 'fossil record' of the dynamics and late evolution of a dying star. A preliminary interpretation suggests that the star might be a double-star system. The suspected companion star also might be responsible for a pair of high-speed jets of gas that lie at right angles to this equatorial ring.

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© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society

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