ENVIRONMENT
08/25/2011 09:07 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

'Dumbbell Nebula' Ink Blot Test: Nebula Appears Different With NASA's Spitzer Telescope (PHOTOS)

The Dumbbell Nebula has a few different faces.

Messier 27, commonly referred to as "the Dumbbell Nebula" because of its unique shape, might not exactly look like what scientists once thought it did, ScienceDaily explains.

Imaged for the first time by NASA's Spitzer telescope, the cloud of material expelled by a burnt out star seems to look a little different than usual.

The difference in images stems from Spitzer's use of infrared imaging. This new shot looks vastly different in many ways than previous ones.

"It is interesting how different Spitzer's view of the Dumbbell looks compared to optical images," said Dr. Joseph Hora, the principal investigator of the observations from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told NASA.

Though the gas from this nebula comes from a burnt-out white dwarf star, it may one day be recycled in the creation of a new one. Gas like this may be "helping to fuel the next generation of stars."

What do you think the nebula looks like?

For more images, check out a 3D version of the Orion Nebula here and a stunning image of the Carina Nebula here.

The Spitzer Telescope's image of the Dumbbell Nebula:

A previous image, via the ESO:

----