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News Release 167 of 1051

May 23, 2013 10:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2013-13

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope Reveals the Ring Nebula's True Shape

A Hubble Heritage Release

May 23, 2013: The distinctive shape of the Ring Nebula, the glowing shroud around a dying Sun-like star, makes it a popular celestial object that appears in many astronomy books. New observations of the Ring Nebula by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, however, reveal a new twist on an iconic nebula.

The Hubble images offer the best view yet of the nebula, revealing a complex structure. The observations have allowed astronomers to construct the most precise three-dimensional model of the glowing gas shroud, called a planetary nebula. Based on the new observations, the Hubble research team suggests that the ring wraps around a blue football-shaped structure that protrudes out of opposite sides of the ring. The nebula is tilted toward Earth so that astronomers see the ring face-on.

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Credit: NASA, ESA, and C.R. O'Dell (Vanderbilt University)