SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Rare Clouds, Eclipse, More

SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Rare Clouds, Eclipse, More
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July 30, 2008—The Cat's Eye nebula meets the astronomer's gaze in a composite image created on May 10, 2000, with data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope.

NGC 6543, as it's officially known, offers a sneak preview of our own dying sun's appearance several billion years in the future.

X-ray data (blue) reveal a cloud of superheated gas surrounding a waning central star that is expelling material into the ejected atmosphere at some four million miles (6,400,000 kilometers) an hour.

—Brian Handwerk

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—Image by X-ray/NASA/CXC/SAO/Optical: NASA/STScI
 
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