Image Credit: NASA/Hubble

OK, for at least the next 24 hours, this is going to be on my list of “Favorite Pictures of Stuff in Space” (also known as FPSS). The weird spiral that probably caused you to stare in puzzled confusion is IRAS 23166+1655. It is a pre-planetary nebula around the star LL Pegasi which is located in the constellation Pegasus.

This spiral was imaged by Hubble with the aid of the Advanced Camera for Surveys and it shows one of the most perfect geometric shapes created in space. LL Pagasi is a binary system which has helped this spiral form in a very delicate and short-lived phase of stellar evolution. One of the stars in the LL Pagasi system is dying and injecting material into space. Each layer is thought to be moving away from the system at about 50,000 km/hr. Using those numbers, scientists calculate the space between each layer is separated by about 800 years, which is the same time as the orbital period of the binary system.

Note: those units were “years” and not “light-years.” If you were at the edge of one of those layers, you’d have to wait 800 years for the next wave to hit you.

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