The Ring Nebula, a massive cloud of gas around a dying star, is one of the best-known celestial objects. Not only is it gorgeous, but it's easy to find in a telescope, even if you're an amateur. This new Hubble image is anything but backyard astronomy, however — and it's given astronomers a new understanding of the nebula's shape in space.
According to NASA:
The Hubble images offer the best view yet of the nebula, revealing a complex structure. The observations have allowed astronomers to construct the most precise three-dimensional model of the glowing gas shroud, called a planetary nebula. Based on the new observations, the Hubble research team suggests that the ring wraps around a blue football-shaped structure that protrudes out of opposite sides of the ring. The nebula is tilted toward Earth so that astronomers see the ring face-on.
Here is the full image — click to expand! Learn more on Hubblesite.