Staring across interstellar space, the
alluring Cat's Eye
nebula lies three thousand light-years from Earth.
nebula, the Cat's Eye (NGC 6543) represents
a final, brief
glorious phase in the life of a sun-like star.
This nebula's dying central star may have produced the simple,
outer pattern of dusty
by shrugging off
layers in a series of regular convulsions.
But the formation of the beautiful, more complex
inner structures is not well understood.
Seen so clearly in
this sharp Hubble Space Telescope image,
the truly cosmic eye is over half a light-year across.
gazing into the Cat's Eye,
astronomers may well be seeing
the fate of our sun, destined to enter its own
phase of evolution ... in about
5 billion years.
The Hubble Heritage Team