Tuesday, March 24, 2009
God's eye .... the wonky one !
A new spectacular image has been taken of the Helix nebula - one of the most beautiful objects in the night sky.
The photo was taken at the European La Silla Observatory in Chile using a special camera attached to a telescope.
The Helix is a sun-like star and is in its final explosion stage before it retires into a white dwarf.
Shells of gas are blown off the star's surface often in intricate patterns that are lit up by the ultra-violet radiation.
The nebula is often called the 'Eye of God' due to its strong resemblance to a giant eye peering out of space.
Helix nebula is about 700 light years away in the constellation of Aquarius.
It has been studied in much more detail than other planetary nebulae due to its relatively close proximity to Earth.
Although the shape of the Helix resembles a doughnut, scientists believe it consists of at least two separate discs with outer rings and filaments.
The main ring is about two light years across, which equates to about half the distance between the Sun and its nearest star