Cat’s Eye Nebula Imaged in 3D

Sep 23, 2022 | Daily Space, Nebulae

IMAGE: A side-by-side comparison of the three-dimensional model of the Cat’s Eye Nebula created by Clairmont and the Cat’s Eye Nebula as photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope. CREDIT: Ryan Clairmont (left), NASA, ESA, HEIC, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) (right)

With the drop in price of VR headsets and advances in computing, 3D exploration of astronomical objects is becoming a cool new possibility that lots of folks are trying to figure out how to take advantage of. This includes school kids. Secondary school student Ryan Clairmont has recently processed Hubble images of the Cat’s Eye Nebula and combined them with information on motion derived from spectra taken at the San Pedro Martir National Observatory in Mexico. Like a cop’s radar gun, these spectra reveal motion.

Clairmont combined this data to create the first 3D model of this system.

The Cat’s Eye nebula is a structure of gas and dust formed by a dying star that was exhaling its atmosphere. This system also appears to have had temporary jets that blew their own details into the structure.

We have linked the hi-res models to our website, and rather than describe them here, just go look on They’re stunning.

More Information

RAS press release

Morphokinematic modelling of the point-symmetric Cat’s Eye, NGC 6543: Ring-like remnants of a precessing jet,” Ryan Clairmont, Wolfgang Steffen, and Nico Koning, 2022 September 15, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society


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