Cat's Eye

3,000 light-years

This stunning image is a composite of X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue) and optical light from the Hubble Space Telescope (red and purple). Known formally as NGC 6543 or informally as the Cat's Eye, this famous object represents a phase of evolution that our Sun will experience several billion years from now. When a Sun-like star begins to run out of fuel, it sheds some of its outer layers while leaving behind a hot core. A fast wind from this hot core rams into the ejected atmosphere and pushes it outward, creating the graceful filamentary structures seen here.

Credit: X-ray: NASA / CXC / SAO; Optical: NASA / STScI.

Listen in English