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The Winter 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist includes a variety of educational resources, ranging from astronomy to glaciers. Check out the other publications and classroom materials in our online store.
This is an image of the Ring Nebula, looking as if from the end of a barrel.
Click on image for full size
Hubble Space Telescope image courtesy of STScI

Hubble Adds a New Dimension to Nebula
News story originally written on January 7, 1999

Scientists have used the Hubble Space Telescope to take a closer look at the Ring Nebula (also known as M57). The nebula was discovered over two hundred years ago but scientists have found something new. It's not really a ring--it's a cylinder that we see from the end.

"My astronomy books taught me that it was a round sphere of expanding gas," recalls Howard Bond, an astronomer for the Heritage Project.

The cylinder was formed from material ejected from a dying star. The material first formed a ring around the star, which slowed down new material trying to expand. The easiest way for the material to leave was through the open areas above and below the ring. This continued and created the cylinder-shape that the nebula has today.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA