This flower is actually a Ring Nebula, also called M57, and it can be found about 2,000 light year away in the constellation Lyra. It is a planetary nebula that extends more than a full light-year across. This type of nebula is formed when a sun-like star dies and begins to expel its outer layer of gases off into space. The stunning looping structure that you see in this image was created by the layers of expelled gas that emanate from the dying central star. NASA scientists believe that this stellar object used to be a sun-like star. This particular image was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. The detail is quite impressive, considering that the Ring Nebula is so far from Earth. The color is due to the intense ultraviolet light, which ionizes atoms in the gas, creating the green and reddish glow. At a visual magnitude of 8.8, M57 is not visible to the naked eye. It can be seen very faintly through binoculars, and its ring becomes visible in telescopes. The outer reddish regions are dominated by ionized hydrogen, while the inner bluish hues are formed by doubly-ionized oxygen.
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