Image Tour: The Cat's Eye Nebula
This planetary nebula has pulses of gas forming concentric circles around its central star, with two jets emanating near the core.
Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Sonoma State University
- Images of the Cat's Eye Nebula: STScI
Text, Image Tour, The Cat's Eye Nebula.
Photo of Nebula.
Text, Fast Facts. Location, Constellation Draco. Distance from Earth, 3,000 light-years. Size, 1.2 light-years wide. Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope.
The Cat's Eye Nebula is a planetary nebula, created when a dying, Sun-sized star ejects its outer layers of gas into space.
This nebula will be visible until its gas dissipates into space over the course of about 10,000 years.
A bar appears at the bottom. Text, Tour Stops. Central Star, Concentric Rings, Symmetrical Shape. A box highlights the first stop, Central Star.
Text, A hot exposed core is all that's left of the star that formed the nebula.
The center is marked with a white circle.
Text, The core's radiation causes the nebula to glow.
In the top left corner, a photo of the nebula shows a white rectangle indicating the portion of it being shown in the larger photo to the right.
Text, Eventually, the core will contract and form a white dwarf, an extremely dense object that contains nearly the mass of the entire Sun in a space the size of Earth.
The box on the tour bar highlights the next stop, Concentric Rings. The rings are highlighted with four white dotted lines that rotate around the nebula.
Text, The nebula's dying star ejected gas into space, creating dust and forming these concentric rings.
In the top left corner, a photo of the nebula shows a white rectangle indicating the portion of it being shown in the larger photo to the right. A closer look at the gas. Lable, Gas Moving Outward. Solid white lines pulsing outward.
Text, The gas may have been ejected in a series of pulses, each about 1,500 years apart.
Dashed white lines moving steadily outward. Label, Gas moving outward.
Text, Or the gas may have been ejected continuously, and the rings were formed by a process that causes the gas and dust to separate.
The box on the tour bar highlights the next stop, Symmetrical Shape. The two shapes on either side of the nebula are outlines in thin white lines.
Text, The Cat's Eye shows a certain symmetry. One side is similar to the other. This structure could be formed by two jets of gas that emanate from the vicinity of the core.
White lines rock back and forth over the sides of the nebula indicating the jets' paths.
Text, They wobble irregularly in space, creating matching shapes on both sides. A single rotation can take from a few hundred to a few thousand years.
The text and lines fade. Then, the tour stops reappear in a bar across the bottom. Text, Central Star, Concentric Rings, Symmetrical Shape.