Sometimes, the reality of our universe offers us phenomena on par with the wildest Hollywood movie. As part of a month-long tribute to nebulae, NASA is highlighting some of their favorite of these space fixtures. Among them? The Evil Eye nebula. (Also known as the Helix Nebula.)
Although it’s only our human imagination that makes this nebula seem sinister, we can’t help but feel there’s something dark brewing in the Evil Eye nebula’s eerie depths. We also have to conclude that it would make the perfect home base for the next Star Wars or Marvel baddie. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is on the horizon, after all.
In their post, NASA offers some… actual science about why the Helix Nebula is the way it is. Although we still like cursed with dark magic as a possible option.
The two-light-year diameter shroud of dust and gas around a central white dwarf, is an example of a planetary nebula, one of the final stages in the evolution of a Sun-like star. The dust makes this cosmic eye gleam red.
The nebular material was ejected from the star many thousands of years ago, the close-in dust could be generated by collisions in a reservoir of objects, like our own solar system’s Kuiper Belt or cometary Oort cloud. Formed in the distant planetary system, the comet-like bodies have otherwise survived the dramatic late stages of the star’s evolution.
So, a little more cosmic dust, a little less Scarlet Witch magic. We guess that makes more sense. Cosmic dust is still pretty cool, though. And even though, at the end of the day, the evil eye nebula is no eviler than anything else in space. (At least, that we know of so far.) It still has its eye on you.