<p>A new infrared picture reveals the intricate structure of the Helix Nebula, the rust-colored remains of a star like our sun that puffed up as it died and shed its shells of gas and dust into space.</p><p>In visible light, fine details in the Helix are largely obscured by dust. But the infrared view—snapped by the <a href="http://www.eso.org/public/">European Southern Observatory'</a>s VISTA telescope—can pierce this veil to see radiating filaments of cooler gas in the rings as well as a faint halo of thinly spread gas that extends to at least four light-years from the dead star's core.</p>

Rusty Helix

A new infrared picture reveals the intricate structure of the Helix Nebula, the rust-colored remains of a star like our sun that puffed up as it died and shed its shells of gas and dust into space.

In visible light, fine details in the Helix are largely obscured by dust. But the infrared view—snapped by the European Southern Observatory's VISTA telescope—can pierce this veil to see radiating filaments of cooler gas in the rings as well as a faint halo of thinly spread gas that extends to at least four light-years from the dead star's core.

Image courtesy ESO

Space Pictures This Week: Italy Shipwreck, Squashed Moon

The Costa Concordia from above, a rusty dead star, a "fresh" Mars crater, and a sinking moon are among the week's best space pictures.

Read This Next

Clothing from 1600s shipwreck shows how the 1 percent lived
A Q&A with Nikole Hannah-Jones on ‘The 1619 Project’

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet