Susan Eisen

Susan Eisen
May 8th, 2014
Any schoolchild could draw a picture of Saturn’s rings, but did you know astronomers in Chile recently identified a nebula-and-star formation 2,500 light years from Earth that bears an uncanny resemblance to an engagement ring?


Dubbed the “Engagement Diamond” nebula — but scientifically called Abell 33 — the cloud of gas resulting from blown off outer layers of an aging star has a perfectly round shape and hollow center that looks like a ring. A strikingly bright star positioned along the rim of the nebula appears to be glittering diamond.

“This is just a chance alignment,” said astronomer Olivier Hainaut. "The star, named HD 83535, lies in the foreground of the nebula, between Earth and Abell 33, in just the right place to make this view even more beautiful. Together, HD 83535 and Abell 33 create a sparkling diamond ring.”

“This cosmic gem is unusually symmetric, appearing to be almost circular on the sky,” noted a spokesperson for the European Space Agency, which revealed the image. More commonly, planetary nebula tend to be irregular in shape.


Astronomers were able to view the intergalactic bling using the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.