The Cats Eye Nebula from Hubble : To some, it may look like a cats eye. The alluring Cats Eye nebula, however, lies three thousand light-years from Earth across interstellar space. A classic planetary nebula, the Cats Eye represents a final, brief yet glorious phase in the life of a sun-like star. This nebulas dying central star may have produced the simple, outer pattern of dusty concentric shells by shrugging off outer layers in a series of regular convulsions. But the formation of the beautiful, more complex inner structures is not well understood. Seen so clearly in this digitally sharpened Hubble Space Telescope image, the truly cosmic eye is over half a light-year across. Of course, gazing into this Cats 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. via NASAjs
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