The creation of the Cat's Eye (part 2)

Different theories exist for what may have triggered the sudden change in the gas ejection. The Cat?s Eye?s amazing patterns could possibly have been sculpted by the magnetic field of a companion star that funnelled the emitted gas into a jet (as illustrated in this animation). As can be seen in the Hubble image at the end of the animation, the jet must have been precessing - somewhat like an enormous, slowly rotating garden sprinkler. This is possibly due to the interaction between two stars in a double star system

A planetary nebula is the radiant afterglow for most stars in the Universe, including our own Sun. Before dying, most stars gently eject their outer gaseous layers and thereby producing bright nebulae with amazing shapes. It only takes some ten thousand years before these cosmic flowers disperse in space. As flowers on Earth fertilize their surroundings when they decompose, the chemical elements painstakingly produced inside the star through its entire life will then nourish space around it. Elements, which will serve to produce new generations of stars, planets and possibly life.


NASA, ESA and Romano Corradi (Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, Spain)

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Release date:9 September 2004, 15:00
Related releases:heic0414
Duration:28 s
Frame rate:30 fps

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