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The Helix Nebula lies at about 650 light-years from the Sun. Such nebulae are formed late in a Sun-like star's life by the gases escaping from the dying star. In fact it is a trillion-km-long tunnel of glowing gases. The tube is pointed nearly directly at Earth, so it looks more like a bubble than a cylinder. The radiant tie-die colours correspond to glowing oxygen (blue) and hydrogen and nitrogen (red).

CREDIT: NASA, NOAO, ESA, the Hubble Helix Nebula Team, M. Meixner (STScI), and T.A. Rector (NRAO).