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NASA thinks this photo looks like the 'Eye of Sauron' from Lord of the Rings

Separated At Birth: ESO 456-67 and Eye of Sauron.
Separated At Birth: ESO 456-67 and Eye of Sauron.
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA (L), New Line Cinema (R)

While the president was inciting nerd rage Friday among the Star Wars AND Star Trek fanbasesNASA was busy captioning its outer limits "Image of the Day" with a Lord of the Rings referenceMark it on the calendar. Something has officially happened. And not just the signed order for $85 billion in sequester cuts. 

Hubble Observes Glowing, Fiery Shells of Gas: It may look like something from "The Lord of the Rings," but this fiery swirl is actually a planetary nebula known as ESO 456-67. Set against a backdrop of bright stars, the rust-colored object lies in the constellation of Sagittarius[...] 

This is hardly the first time astronomers have pulled from fantasy to describe science-nonfiction. Earlier this year University of California researchers made the same comparison when they confirmed the existence of "a controversial exoplanet called Fomalhaut b," Wired reported. 

The results show that the object is even stranger than scientists could have imagined, dubbing it a "rogue planet"...scientists released an image taken with NASA’s Hubble space telescope of a tiny dot of light in the debris disk of a young, bright star...the enormous debris disk made the star resemble the “Eye of Sauron” from the Lord of the Rings movies...