The Butterfly Nebula exhibits the classic hourglass shape of many planetary nebulas…
2 of 50
Intricate Crab Nebula Poses for Hubble Close-Up
Credit: NASA/ESA and Jeff Hester (Arizona State University).
The Hubble Space Telescope has caught the most detailed view of the Crab Nebula in one of the largest images ever assembed by the space-based observatory.
3 of 50
The Splendor of Orion: A Star Factory Unveiled
Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Robberto (Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team
This new Hubble image of the Orion Nebula shows dense pillars of gas and dust that may be the homes of fledgling stars, and hot, young, massive stars that have emerged from their cocoons and are shaping the nebula with powerful ultraviolet light.
4 of 50
Cosmic 'DNA': Double Helix Spotted in Space
This is a color enhanced version of the infrared signal to make the Double Helix Nebula's features easier to see. The spots are mostly red giants and red supergiants. Many other stars are present, but are too dim to appear.
5 of 50
New Picture Goes Into the Eye of the Helix Nebula
This color-composite image of the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) was created from images obtained by the Wide Field Imager (WFI), an astronomical camera attached to the ESO telescope at the La Silla observatory in Chile.
Supernova 1987A occurred in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a galaxy only 160,000 light years from Earth. The outburst was visible to the naked eye, and is the brightest known supernova in almost 400 years.
7 of 50
Sun's Baby Twin Spotted
Credit: NASA/ESA/STScI, J. Hester/P. Scowen/ASU
Located in the Eagle Nebula, E42 is thought to be a very early embryo of a star much like Earth's Sun.
8 of 50
Near-Perfect Symmetry Revealed in Red Cosmic Square
Credit: Peter Tuthill, Palomar and Keck Observatories
An image of the Red Square nebula surrounding the hot star MWC 922. The picture was taken with infrared adaptive optics imaging at Palomar and Keck Observatories.
A wide-field overview image of the Veil Nebula, taken on the ground by the Digitized Sky Survey 2. The three areas imaged with Hubble are marked.
10 of 50
Huge Stars Seen as Source of Glowing Gas
A million-degree plasma cloud in the Orion Nebula. The emission colored in blue shows X-ray emission from a hot plasma cloud in the extended regions of the Orion Nebula, detected by the XMM-Newton satellite. The background image has been recorded by the Spitzer Space Telescope in the infrared, showing emission from cool dust.
11 of 50
New Clues to the Most Amazing Shapes in Space
The Cat's Eye Nebula features concentric shells or bubbles of gas and dust.
12 of 50
Violent Carina Nebula Seen in Detail
Several well known astronomical objects in and near the Carina Nebula can be seen in this wide field image: to the bottom left of the image is one of the most impressive binary stars in the Universe, Eta Carinae, with the famous Keyhole Nebula just adjacent to the star. The collection of very bright, young stars above and to the right of Eta Carinae is the open star cluster Trumpler 14. A second open star cluster, Collinder 228 is also seen in the image, just below Eta Carinae. North is up and East is to the left.
13 of 50
Cosmic Hand Reaches for the Light
Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane, et al.
Red represents low-energy X-rays, the medium range is green, and the most energetic ones are colored blue. The blue hand-like structure was created by energy emanating from the nebula around they dying star PSR B1509-58. The red areas are from a neighboring gas cloud called RCW 89.
14 of 50
Census Finds Unknown Young Stars of Orion
Parts of the Orion Molecular cloud are illuminated by nearby stars and therefore glow an eerie green color. The jets punch through the cloud and can be seen as a multitude of tiny pink-purple arcs, knots and filaments. The young stars that drive the jets are usually found along each jet and are colored golden orange.
15 of 50
Wild Fireworks Spotted in Space
Credit: NAOJ/Subaru Telescope
The new near-infrared image of the Helix Nebula, showing comet-shaped knots within, was released July 2, 2009. Scientists noted that these features look like a fireworks display in space.
16 of 50
New View of the Iconic Eagle Nebula
A close-up image of the the so-called “Pillars of Creation” located at the center of the Eagle Nebula.
17 of 50
New Image Reveals Nebula's Double Star Heart
This new image, centred on the B[e] star HD 87643, beautifully shows the extended nebula of gas and dust that reflects the light from the star. The nebula appears at the upper right. The image was released by the European Southern Observatory on Aug. 5, 2009.
18 of 50
Trisected Nebula Seen in Fresh Detail
A new image of the Trifid Nebula, named by English astronomer John Herschel, was taken with the Wide-Field Imager camera attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in northern Chile. Three different regions of the nebula can be seen in the image.
19 of 50
Hubble Photographs Billowing Clouds of Cosmic Dust
Credit: NASA & ESA
A recent NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope close-up image of part of NGC 7023, or the Iris Nebula, shows that the area is clogged with cosmic dust.
20 of 50
Dark Heart of a Nebula Finally Photographed
Credit: ESA and the SPIRE & PACS consortia, P. André (CEA Saclay) for the Gould’s Belt Key Programme Consortia
An inside view of the heart of the Eagle Nebula, captured by the Herschel space telescope on Oct. 24, 2009.
21 of 50
Glowing Nebula Reveals Cosmic Cat's Paw
This new portrait of NGC 6334 (the Cat's Paw Nebula) was created from images taken with the Wide Field Imager instrument at the 2.2-metre MPG/ESO telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, combining images taken through blue, green and red filters, as well as a special filter designed to let through the light of glowing hydrogen.
Sharpless 2-106 as imaged by the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph on the Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawai‘i. This color composite image shows the nursery of a massive star (hidden within the cloud) obtained with four narrow-band optical filters available for Gemini users at both Gemini North and South.
23 of 50
Owl Nebula Wins Student's Choice Photo Contest
Credit: Émilie Storer (Collège Charlemagne, QUE), André-Nicolas Chené (HIA/NRC of Canada), and Travis Rector (U.Alaska, Anchorage)
Gemini North image of the planetary nebula M97, also known as the Owl Nebula, imaged by the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) as part of a Canadian contest for high school students. The approximately 6,000 year-old nebula is located about 2,600 light-years away, and has a diameter of about three light-years across. It is located in the constellation of Ursa Major (which contains the Big Dipper).
24 of 50
Star-Formation Details Seen in New Images
Credit: ESA/LFI & HFI Consortia
An active star-formation region in the Orion nebula, as seen by Planck. This image covers a region of 13x13 degrees. It is a three-color combination constructed from three of Planck's nine frequency channels: 30, 353 and 857 GHz.
25 of 50
Soul Nebula's Heart Caught on Camera
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team
NASA's WISE infrared space observatory mission team released this mosaic of the Soul Nebula (a.k.a. the Embryo Nebula, IC 1848, or W5) on April 2, 2010. The Soul Nebula is an open cluster of stars surrounded by a cloud of dust and gas over 150 light-years across and located about 6,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia, near the Heart Nebula.
This VISTA image shows the spectacular 30 Doradus star-forming region, also called the Tarantula Nebula. At its core is a large cluster of stars known as R 136, in which some of the most massive stars known are located. This infrared image, made with ESO's VISTA survey telescope, is from the VISTA Magellanic Cloud Survey.
The Hubble Space Telescope captured this striking image of the curious planetary nebula NGC 6210, which is located about 6,500 light-years away in the constellation of Hercules.
29 of 50
Hubble Captures Dazzling Infant Star in Orion Nebula
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
This image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope shows the spectacular region around an object known as Herbig-Haro 502, a very small part of the vast stellar nursery in the picturesque Orion Nebula. An infant star is visible just left of center.
30 of 50
Cosmic Nebulas Dazzle in New Space Telescope Photos
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team
An image of the Flaming Star Nebula, taken in infrared light by NASA's WISE space telescope.
31 of 50
Lagoon Nebula's Stellar Baby Boom Seen in New Photo
Credit: ESO/VVV Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit [Full Story]
This new infrared view of the star formation region Messier 8, often called the Lagoon Nebula, was captured by the VISTA telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. This view was created from several other images acquired as in a huge survey of the central parts of the Milky Way.
32 of 50
Big Star(s) in Space
Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Maíz Apellániz (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain)
Monday, January 24, 2011: Pismis 24-1 shines brightest at the top center of this image, which displays the NGC 6357 nebula in Scorpius. Researchers previously considered Pismis 24-1 the most massive star in the galaxy at 200-300 solar masses, far above the current theorized limit of 150 solar masses. However, Hubble and ground-based telescopes have discovered that Pismis 24-1 is not merely a binary star system, but it is composed of a tight binary star system and a third star, meaning the individual stars cannot have broken the mass record.
33 of 50
Thursday, February 17, 2011: NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows a new infrared view of the North American nebula — but where's the continent? Since infrared light can penetrate dust, while visible light cannot, the picture of the nebula that usually resembles the continent of North America (see image for comparison) changes completely. Dusty, dark clouds in the visible image vanish in Spitzer's view. In addition, Spitzer's infrared detectors display the glow of dusty cocoons enveloping baby stars. Clusters of young stars (about one million years old) appear throughout the image.
34 of 50
Horse in the Sky
Credit: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope/Coelum
Friday, March 4, 2011: The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope produced this stunning image of the well-known Horsehead Nebula. It is part of an enormous cloud of molecular gas and dust obscuring background light from nearby emission nebula IC 434, producing the silhouette.
35 of 50
Pack Your Trunk and Say Goodbye to the Circus
Credit: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope/Coelum
Friday, March 18, 2011: The Elephant's Trunk Nebula sits in star cluster IC 1396, in the constellation of Cepheus. A cloud of high-temperature gas warmed up by newly born stars forms the emission nebula. Hydrogen, the most common element in space, glows intensely in red light when heated by hot, young stars seen inside the "trunk."
36 of 50
Mountains Come Out of the Sky
Credit: ESA, Hubble, NASA
Friday, March 25, 2011: Dust in nebula NCG 2174 appears in mountain-like formations, though the structures have no more substance than air. Nearby bright, newly formed stars emanate light and winds that disperse the "mountains." NCG 2174 lies in the constellation Orion.
37 of 50
Rose Red Stars
Credit: ESO/Manu Mejias, images
The star cluster NGC 371 appears in this new image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope.
38 of 50
Your Number or Your Name
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team
Monday, April 4, 2011: The distinctive sky feature LBN 114.55+00.22, seen here, emits light, and therefore astronomers class it as an emission nebula. LBN stands for "Lynds Bright Nebula," named after the astronomer who published a catalogue of nebulae in 1965. 114.55+00.22 indicates the nebula’s coordinates in the Milky Way Galaxy.
39 of 50
Keep Your Distance
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team
The three nebulae in this image may appear close together, but in actuality they reside at different distances from the Earth. Nebula NGC 1491 glows on the right side of this WISE image, SH 2-209 sits on the left side and BFS 34 lies in between. NGC 1491 and BFS 34 are part of the same cloud complex at distance of about 10,700 light-years away in the Perseus arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. SH 2-209 lives farther away at about 16,000 light-years distance, located in the outer arm of the Milky Way.
40 of 50
It's a Gas, Gas, Gas
Credit: ESO, Digitized Sky Survey 2 and Joe DePasquale
Friday, May 20, 2011: Nebula NGC 3582 contains giant loops of gas that resemble solar prominences. Researchers think dying stars ejected the loops, but this stellar nursery also produces new stars. The young stars emit ultraviolet radiation that causes the gas in the nebula to glow, producing the fiery display. To make this image, Joe DePasquale combined a variety of datasets acquired by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.
41 of 50
Green Nebula Ring
This glowing emerald nebula seen by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is reminiscent of the glowing ring wielded by the superhero Green Lantern.
42 of 50
Fireworks in Nebula NGC 3603
Credit: NASA, ESA, R. O'Connell (University of Virginia), F. Paresce (National Institute for Astrophysics, Bologna, Italy), E. Young (Universities Space Research Association/Ames Research Center), the WFC3 Science Oversight Committee, and the Hubble Heritage Team
This nebula, located 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina, contains a central cluster of huge, hot stars called NGC 3603. The Hubble Space Telescope image was captured in August 2009 and December 2009 with the Wide Field Camera 3.
43 of 50
Dwarves Shouldn't Play with Fireworks
Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Aloisi (STScI/ESA), and The Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration
Nearly 12.5 million light-years away in the dwarf galaxy NGC 4449 stellar "fireworks" are going off all the time. The image was taken in November 2005 with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys.
44 of 50
Nebula Dominated by Cosmic Superbubble
Credit: ESO/Manu Mejias
The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope was used to obtain this view of the nebula LHA 120-N 44 surrounding the star cluster NGC 1929. Lying within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way, this region of star formation features a colossal superbubble of material expanding outwards due to the influence of the cluster of young stars at its heart that sculpts the interstellar landscape and drives forward the nebula’s evolution.
45 of 50
Gemini Observatory Image of Kronberger 61 Nebula
Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA
This Gemini Observatory image of Kronberger 61 shows the ionized shell of expelled gas resembling a soccer ball. The light of the nebula here is primarily due to emission from twice-ionized oxygen, and its central star can be seen as the slightly bluer star very close to the center of the nebula.
46 of 50
Skulls, Tornadoes and Insects - The Bizarre Sightings of Modern Astronomy
Credit: Gemini South GMOS/Travis Rector/U. of Alaska Anchorage
A Gemini South image of the planetary nebula NGC 246, or "Skull Nebula."
47 of 50
Ghost-Like Nebula Revealed in Haunting Space Photo
Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble, R. Sahai (JPL) [Full Story]
The ghost-like nebula, IRAS 05437+2502, includes a small star-forming region filled with dark dust that was first noted in images taken by the IRAS satellite in infrared light in 1983. This recently released image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows many new details, but has not uncovered a clear cause of the bright sharp arc.
This dramatic infrared image shows the nearby star formation region Monoceros R2, located some 2,700 light-years away in the constellation of Monoceros (the Unicorn). The picture was created from exposures taken by the VISTA survey telescope at ESO's Paranal Observatory.
49 of 50
Credit: ESO and Igor Chekalin
This new image of the Orion Nebula was captured using the Wide Field Imager camera on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.
50 of 50
Hubble has taken this stunning close-up shot of part of the Tarantula Nebula. This star-forming region of ionised hydrogen gas is in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy which neighbours the Milky Way.