Image of the Day: The Extraordinary Geometry of the Helix Nebula

HelixNB3RWeb2_goldmanc800

 

The Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) has an unusually complex geometry revealed by this color composite, including light-year long, bluegreen radial stripes or spokes that give it the appearance of a cosmic bicycle wheel. The spoke features seem to indicate that the Helix Nebula is itself an ancient and evolved planetary nebula, a mere seven hundred light years from Earth, in the constellation Aquarius.

Image credit: Don Goldman, Sierra Remote Observatories

"The Galaxy" in Your Inbox, Free, Daily