Astronomy Picture of the Day

Cat's Eye Hubble Remix

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Cat's Eye Hubble Remix


Staring across interstellar space, the alluring
Cat's Eye
lies three thousand light-years from Earth.

One of the most famous
in the sky, the Cat's Eye (NGC 6543) is over half
a light-year across and represents a final, brief yet
glorious phase
in the life of a sun-like star.

This nebula's dying central star may have
produced the simple, outer pattern of dusty concentric shells by
shrugging off
in a series of regular convulsions.

But the formation of the beautiful,
more complex inner structures is not well understood.

Here, Hubble Space Telescope archival image data has been
reprocessed to
create another look the cosmic cat's eye.

Compared to well-known
Hubble pictures,
the alternative processing strives to sharpen and improve the visiblility
of details in light and dark areas of the nebula and also applies a
more complex color

Of course, gazing into the Cat's Eye, astronomers may well be seeing the
fate of our Sun, destined to enter its own
planetary nebula
phase of evolution ... in about 5 billion years.

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