Astronomers investigating the Ring Nebula using Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 have obtained the image above, the clearest and most detailed view yet of the structure, which is about a light year across. Further studies with ground-based telescopes show that not only is there material around the edges but also in the center, moving toward and away from us. And it's all surrounded by an outer halo.
PHOTOS: Hubble's Latest Mind Blowing Cosmic Pictures
So actually the Ring Nebula is shaped like a football wrapped by a doughnut around its middle... inside a bubble.
"With Hubble's detail, we see a completely different shape than what's been thought about historically for this classic nebula," said team leader C. Robert O'Dell of Vanderbilt University in Nashville. "The new Hubble observations show the nebula in much clearer detail, and we see things are not as simple as we previously thought."
Watch a video of M57′s structure here.
And even though the Ring Nebula may seem static and serene from our point of view, it's the result of a very catastrophic event - and it's still quite dynamic.