Pictures of the Ring Nebula
Facts and images about the Ring Nebula, M57, a planetary nebula found 2,000 lightyears away in Lyra.
The Ring Nebula, also known as M57, is a planetary nebula found 2,000 lightyears away in the Lyra constellation.
It is perhaps one of the most iconic and beautiful planetary nebulae known to astronomers and astrophotographers on Earth, due to the fact that it is angled favourably from our perspective, so we can marvel at its majestic appearance.
Planetary nebulae have nothing to do with planets, but are a result of an ageing, Sun-like star ejecting its outer shells of cosmic material into space, producing a spherical, puffed-out shape.
Observations with the Hubble Space Telescope revealed that the Ring Nebula actually consists of an inner, rugby ball-shaped region of gas seen end-on from Earth (blue in the image below) that is piercing the outer red ring-shaped material.
Read our guide to the best planetary nebulae to spot in the night sky.
It was discovered by French astronomer Antoine Darquier de Pellepoix in January 1779.
Below is a selection of images of the Ring Nebula captured by BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers and astrophotographers from around the world.
If sketching is more your thing, read our guide on how to draw a nebula.