Researchers develop a 3D model of the Cat’s Eye Nebula

The Cat’s Eye Nebula is one of the most mysterious nebula formations that continually baffles astronomers. In fact, some theories regarding this planetary structure have come out, but no one has been able to explain their connection to it.

To take a close look at this structure, the researchers developed a 3D model of the planetary nebula that exists more than 3,000 light-years from Earth.

What is a Cat’s Eye Nebula?

(Photo: NASA)
The researchers found that the precession jets draw the rings around the cat’s eye.

When a star dies, it emits a lot of gas which forms another structure. The so-called formation is the object in space that we know as a nebula. The result is often mesmerizing to viewers as it comes in different colors and patterns.

Speaking of which, astrophysicists have created a three-dimensional representation of the famous Cat’s Eye Nebula. According to NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope witnessed the beauty of the NGC 6543 nebula through its Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS).

The Cat’s Eye Nebula features a hodgepodge of dust shells and unique arc-shaped filaments. In the past, this formation has often left curiosity in the minds of experts who are still searching for answers about its origin.

In a Phys.org article, the latest study explains how precessional jets help shape this planetary nebula in vast space. Although this is an interesting avenue to explore, it still lacks an explanation based on a scientific model.

To find possible answers regarding the mechanism that triggers its shape, Ryan Clairmont, the study’s lead author, developed a 3D shape of the Cat’s Eye Nebula.

Together with Nico Koning and Dr. Wolfgang Steffen, the team reconstructed the 3D model of the structure using data provided by the San Pedro Martir National Observatory.

Related article: NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captures the ‘Butterfly Nebula’ in stunning motion | Fun Facts About This Beautiful Space Butterfly

Symmetric rings

They found the perfect symmetry of the rings and concluded that a jet precession had occurred. Experts have compared it to a wobbling motion seen when playing on a spinning top.

The data they collected on the ring seems inconsistent. Later they realized that the appearance of the jets was only temporary. They couldn’t form a 360 degree rotation at a glance.

“When I first saw the Cat’s Eye Nebula, I was amazed by its beautiful, perfectly symmetrical structure. I was even more surprised that its 3D structure was not fully understood,” said said Clairmont.

The researchers noted the changes in the position of the jets, responsible for the formation of the cat’s eye. To calculate the opening angle and inclination of the precession jet, they imagined the creation of its 3D model.

To see the study titled “Morphokinematic Modeling of the Point-Symmetric Cat’s Eye, NGC 6543: Ring-Shaped Remnants of a Precessing Jet”, visit the Royal Astronomical Society for more details.

Read also : NASA James Webb captures the South Ring Nebula, proving it’s more advanced than other space telescopes

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Written by Joseph Henry

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