This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows one of the most complex planetary nebulae ever seen, NGC 6543, nicknamed the "Cat's Eye Nebula." Hubble reveals surprisingly intricate structures including concentric gas shells, jets of high-speed gas and unusual shock-induced knots of gas. Estimated to be 1,000 years old, the nebula is a visual "fossil record" of the dynamics and late evolution of a dying star.
January 11th, 1995
The furious expansion of a huge, billowing pair of gas and dust clouds are captured in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope comparison image of the supermassive star Eta Carinae. Even though Eta Carinae is more than 8,000 light-years away, structures only 15 billion km across (about the diameter of our solar system) can be distinguished in this sharp Hubble image. Dust lanes, tiny condensations, and strange radial streaks all appear with unprecedented clarity.
January 14th, 1994
An image of the grand design spiral galaxy Messier 100 obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope resolves individual stars within the majestic spiral arms. Messier 100 (100th object in the Messier catalog of non-stellar objects) is a face-on spiral galaxy. It is a rotating system of gas and stars, similar to our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Hubble routinely can view M100 with a level of clarity and sensitivity previously possible only for very few nearby galaxies. M100 is a member of the huge Virgo cluster of an estimated 2,500 galaxies. The galaxy can be seen by amateur astronomers as a faint, pinwheel-shaped object in the spring constellation Coma Berenices.
October 26th, 1994
This spectacular image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope of the group of galaxies called Stephan's Quintet has provided a detailed view of one of the most exciting star forming regions in the local Universe. Stephan's Quintet is a favoured object for amateur astronomers and has earned a reputation as a challenging target for good hobby telescopes. The quintet is a prototype of a class of objects known as compact groups of galaxies and has been studied intensively for decades. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a close-up view of the central part of Stephan's Quintet, giving a magnificent view of a gigantic cosmic collision. Weird, highly distorted features, dust lanes crossing between galaxies and long filaments of stars and gas extending far beyond the central regions all suggest galaxies twisted by violent encounters. The galaxies float through space, distorted shapes moulded by tidal interactions, weaving together in the intricate figures of an immense cosmic dance, choreographed by gravity.
July 19th, 2001
One of the intrinsically brightest stars in our galaxy appears as the bright white dot in the center of this image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) was needed to take the picture, because the star is hidden at the galactic center, behind obscuring dust. NICMOS' infrared vision penetrated the dust to reveal the star, which is glowing with the radiance of 10 million suns.
October 8th, 1997