Hubble Reveals Ring Nebula Looks More Like a Distorted Jelly Doughnut Than a Ring

Posted on May 23, 2013

Hubble Ring Nebula 3D Image

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has produced the most detailed observations ever of the Ring Nebula (Messier 57). The new images show a more complex structure than astronomers once thought. Astronomers used the new data to construct the most precise 3-D model of the nebula and reveal its true shape, which astronomers say is more like a jelly doughnut than a ring.

C. Robert O'Dell of Vanderbilt University in Nashville and leader of the research team building the Ring Nebula model, said in a statement, "The nebula is not like a bagel, but rather, it's like a jelly doughnut, because it's filled with material in the middle. With Hubble's detail, we see a completely different shape than what's been thought about historically for this classic nebula. The new Hubble observations show the nebula in much clearer detail, and we see things are not as simple as we previously thought."

The astronomers say the Ring Nebula is expanding at more than 43,000 miles an hour, with the center moving faster than the expansion of the main ring. They say the nebula will continue expanding for another 10,000 years.

Take a look:

Photo: NASA, ESA, and C. Robert O'Dell (Vanderbilt University)

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