NASA shares image of Helix Nebula, a giant eye in the sky

NASA has shared an amazing image of a giant eye-shaped nebula that is among the brightest and closest to Earth. The image, taken by the agency’s Spitzer Space Telescope, showed a deep vacuum surrounded by a sparkling cloud of dust and gas. The dust and gas are scattered over a diameter of two light years around a central white dwarf. The dust makes this central part shine with shades of red. This astronomical formation is known as Helix Nebula, which is 700 light-years away from Earth, located in the constellation of Aquarius.

When a star like the Sun runs out of fuel, it expands and its outer layer exhales, and then the star’s core shrinks. This phase is known as a “planetary nebula,” NASA said. Scientists expect that our sun will experience this phase in about 5 billion years.

The agency said the star probably shot out the nebula – shown in the image – many thousands of years ago. The dust could be generated by collisions inside a reservoir of objects, such as in our own solar system’s Kuiper Belt or the comet Oort cloud. The Helix Nebula can be easily observed on a clear, moonless night with binoculars.

“It’s so amazing,” commented one Instagram user. Referring to its appearance as a giant eye in space, another said, “The spiral nebula was nicknamed the Eye of God or God.” The nickname began to appear after NASA released an image of it taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2002. The infrared image taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope followed in 2007.

NASA has asked space enthusiasts to “keep an eye out” as it highlights some of the most favorite nebulae through this month on its Instagram account.

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