Discover the cosmos! Each day we feature a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
Today's Picture: June 28, 1995
The Cat's Eye Nebula
Picture Credit: NASA, Hubble Space Telescope
Explanation: Three thousand light years away, a dying star throws off shells of glowing gas. This Hubble Space Telescope image reveals "The Cat's Eye Nebula" to be one of the most complex "planetary nebulae" known. In fact, the features seen in this image are so complex that astronomers suspect the visible central star may actually be a double 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 evolution.
Latest APOD Featuring this Image: July 4, 1996
For more information see NASA Space Telescope Scientific Institute press release.