<p dir="ltr">Nearly 650 light-years from Earth, the Helix Nebula—pictured in a new composite image from <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html">NASA</a>'s <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/spitzer/main/index.html">Spitzer Space Telescope</a> and the orbiting <a href="http://www.galex.caltech.edu/about/overview.html">Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX)—</a>offers a glimpse of what our <a href="http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/solar-system/sun-article/">sun</a> might one day look like.</p><p dir="ltr">Many scientists expect the sun to die in about five billion years and become, like the Helix, a planetary nebula. Bounded by expanding bubbles of glowing gas, planetary <a href="http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/photos/nebulae-gallery/">nebulae</a> were misnamed because, when seen through early telescopes, the gas clouds resembled gas-giant planets such as <a href="http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/solar-system/jupiter-article/">Jupiter</a> or <a href="http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/solar-system/neptune-article/">Neptune</a>.</p>

The Sun's Fate?

Nearly 650 light-years from Earth, the Helix Nebula—pictured in a new composite image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the orbiting Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX)—offers a glimpse of what our sun might one day look like.

Many scientists expect the sun to die in about five billion years and become, like the Helix, a planetary nebula. Bounded by expanding bubbles of glowing gas, planetary nebulae were misnamed because, when seen through early telescopes, the gas clouds resembled gas-giant planets such as Jupiter or Neptune.

Image courtesy Caltech/NASA

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