NASA has shared a stunning image of a giant eye-shaped nebula that is one of the brightest and closest to Earth. The image captured by the agency’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows a deep vacuum surrounded by a gleaming cloud of dust and gas. Dust and gas surround a central white dwarf two-light-years in diameter. The dust makes this central part glow with red colors. This celestial structure is known as the Helix Nebula, which is 700 light years away from Earth, located in Aquarius.
When a star like the Sun runs out of fuel, it expands and its outer layers swell, and then the core of the star shrinks. This phase is known as the “planetary nebula”, said NASA. Scientists expect our Sun to experience this phase in about 5 billion years.
The agency said the star probably ejected nebular material – shown in the image – thousands of years ago. Dust can result from collisions inside a reservoir of objects, such as in our own solar system’s Kuiper Belt or the Cometary Oort Cloud. The Helix Nebula is easily seen on a clear, new moon night Telescope.
“It’s so amazing,” commented instagram the user. “The Helix Nebula was nicknamed the Eye of God or the Eye of God”, another said, referring to what looked like a giant eye in space. The nickname began to appear after NASA released an image of it Hubble Space Telescope in 2002. A follow-up infrared image taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope in 2007.
NASA is asking space enthusiasts to “keep an eye out” as it highlights some of its most favorite nebulae through this month. Instagram account.