Staring Into Space
The Cat's Eye Nebula roils and radiates in a new composite picture blending visible light from the Hubble Space Telescope and x-ray wavelengths (tinted purple) captured by NASA's orbiting Chandra observatory.
The image is part of Chandra's first systematic survey of nearby planetary nebulae. So-named because 18th-century stargazers mistook the gas bubbles for gas-giant planets, planetary nebulae are glowing shells of material thrown off by dying stars.
Years ago Hubble pictures forced a rethink of how stars die. "Now these Chandra images have helped us get even more data, because x-rays tell us things that Hubble doesn't tell us about the very last stages of the deaths of these stars," astrophysicist Joel Kastner told National Geographic News.
(Related picture: Hubble spies the Cat's-Eye Nebula.)
New Pictures: Planetary Nebulae Shine in X-Ray Vision
Purple haze is providing forensic evidence on star deaths in luminous shots from NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory.