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Looking Down a Tunnel of Gas at a Doomed Star

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured the sharpest view yet of M57, the Ring Nebula in Lyra, which is the most famous of all planetary nebulae. In this image, the telescope has looked down a tunnel of gas cast off by a dying star thousands of years ago. This photo reveals elongated dark clumps of material embedded in the gas at the edge of the nebula, and the dying central star floating in a blue haze of hot gas. The nebula is about a light-year in diameter, and is located some 2,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Lyra. The colors are approximately true colors, and represent three different chemical elements: helium (blue), oxygen (green), and nitrogen (red).

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)