Astronomers captured a rare image of a nebula on Wednesday 09 April 2014 that appears like an engagement ring. The image was captured using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) that has an image of a star and nebula called A66 33 in the background, thus forming an illusion of a 'diamond ring'. The nebula A66 33 is located roughly 2500 light-years from Earth.
"This cosmic gem is unusually symmetric, appearing to be almost circular on the sky," according to European Southern Observatory (ESO), which revealed the image.
A perfectly round planetary nebula is rare as something disturbs the symmetry and it appears in irregular shapes. The image was taken as part of ESO's Cosmic Gems program, which captures visually appealing celestial objects for public awareness and educational purposes.
A planetary nebula is formed when a massive star is at its end stage and dies as white dwarf, after which it ejects most of its atmosphere into the space, explained ESO. The colorful glowing gas forms a symmetrical pattern like that of a circle. Abell 33 was one among the 86 planetary nebulae that was discovered in 1966 by George Abell.
"The strikingly bright star located along the rim of the nebula creates a beautiful illusion in its VLT image. This is just a chance alignment - the star, named HD 83535, lies in the foreground of the nebula, between Earth and Abell 33, in just the right place to make this view even more beautiful" said ESA.
The remnants of Abell 33's progenitor star are on its way to become a white dwarf.
(Edited by Vanilla Sharma)