Halo of the Cats Eye

Wed, 03 Aug 2022 00:00:00 GMT
Astronomy Picture of the Day

Halo of the Cats Eye

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

Explanation: What created the unusual halo around the Cat's Eye nebula? No one is sure.

What is sure is that the Cat's Eye Nebula is one of the best known planetary nebulae on the sky.

Although haunting symmetries are seen in the bright central region, this image was taken to feature its intricately structured outer halo, which spans over three light-years across.

Planetary nebulae have long been appreciated as a final phase in the life of a Sun-like star.

Have some planetaries been found to have expansive halos, likely formed from material shrugged off during earlier puzzling episodes in the star's evolution.

While the planetary nebula phase is thought to last for around 10,000 years, astronomers estimate the age of the outer filamentary portions of the Cat's Eye Nebula's halo to be 50,000 to 90,000 years.

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