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Puffy new view of an old nebula

Image: Hubble Legacy Archive/ESA/NASA/Delio Tolivia Cadrecha

Image: Hubble Legacy Archive/ESA/NASA/Delio Tolivia Cadrecha


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Sunday, September 1, 2013, 2:51 PM -

What do you see when you look into this big space cloud? 
NASA posted this shot of planetary nebula NGC 7027 as its Astronomy Photo of the Day last week, but it's not a new discovery. The nebula, located in the constellation Cygnus, has been on the books since 1878.
Here's what it looked like when posted as NASA's picture of the day in 1998:

Image: W. B. Latter (SIRTF /Caltech) et al./NICMOS/HST/NASA

Image: W. B. Latter (SIRTF /Caltech) et al./NICMOS/HST/NASA

As a planetary nebula, it's made up of clouds of gas and dust that seemingly began expanding around 600 years ago, and together make up three times the mass of our sun.

The new picture, the puffy one up top, was later imaged by the Hubble Space telescope in assigned colours.

We're not sure how serious they are about it, but NASA apparently wants visitors to their weto come up with a new, informal moniker for the nebula, which has never been given a formal name beyond its NGC designation.

You can weigh in in NASA's APOD forums.

It's not the weirdest thing in the sky by any stretch of the imagination, either. Check out our view of seven of the weirdest and most fantastic planets found beyond our solar system.

And, if your skywatching tastes run more toward active weather, there's plenty in our video galleries.

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