This remarkable image seems to show a perfect spiral in space. It's created by a neighboring star which is leaking dust and particles, forming a new nebula.

This image from the Hubble Space Telescope captures a pre-planetary nebula, designated IRAS 23166+1655, that's orbiting the star LL Pegasi. Here's Hubble's explanation for what's going on:

The striking picture shows what appears to be a thin spiral pattern of astonishingly regularity winding around the star, which is itself hidden behind thick dust. The spiral pattern suggests a regular periodic origin for the nebula's shape. The material forming the spiral is moving outwards a speed of about 50,000 km/hour and, by combining this speed with the distance between layers, astronomers calculate that the shells are each separated by about 800 years.

The spiral is thought to arise because LL Pegasi is a binary system, with the star that is losing material and a companion star orbiting each other. The spacing between layers in the spiral is expected to directly reflect the orbital period of the binary, which is indeed estimated to be also about 800 years.

You can read a paper explaining more about this remarkable star system at this link. You can also click the image up top for a closer look.


[Hubble Space Telescope]