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VISTA has captured this unusual view of the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293), a planetary nebula located 700 light-years away. Caption and photo courtesy of ESO/VISTA/J. Emerson. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

Ah yes. The eye of Sauron. Wait a minute…

No, no. This is the Helix Nebula and it’s definitely a favorite of mine. This extremely crisp photograph was captured with the European Southern Observatory’s VISTA telescope.

The nebula, which is one of the closest to Earth, formed when the sun was at its last stages of life. Read more about the nebula and why it appears the way it does here.

Want to see what the nebula looked like before VISTA? Check this out.

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