Hubble image of the Ring Nebula (Messier 57)
This new image shows the dramatic shape and colour of the Ring Nebula, otherwise known as Messier 57.
From Earth’s perspective, the nebula looks like a simple elliptical shape with a shaggy boundary. However, new observations combining existing ground-based data with new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope data show that the nebula is shaped like a distorted doughnut. This doughnut has a rugby-ball-shaped region of lower-density material slotted into in its central "gap", stretching towards and away from us.