Gallery: Strange Nebula Shapes, What Do You See?

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.

Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud

ESO/M.-R. Cioni/VISTA Magellanic Cloud survey

This view shows part of the very active star-forming region around the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small neighbor of the Milky Way. At the exact center lies the brilliant but isolated star VFTS 682 and to its lower right the very rich star cluster R 136.

Horse in the Sky

Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope/Coelum

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.

Soccer Ball in Space

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.

Elephant's Trunk Nebula

ASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

NASA’s Wide-field Survey Explorer (WISE) took this image of the Elephant’s Trunk nebula, showing clouds of dust and gas pushed and eroded by a massive star. The bright ‘trunk’ of the nebula near the center is an especially dense cloud holding up against the star’s powerful radiation and stellar wind. Other "elephant trunk" structures exist in other nebulae, but this is the only nebula that uses the term in its moniker.

Pillars of Creation

J. Hester/P. Scowen/ASU/HST/NASA

Take a look at the Hubble Space Telescope's iconic view of the Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula.

Ghost-Like Nebula Revealed in Haunting Space Photo

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.

Hubble Telescope Spies Majestic Space Mountains

NASA/ESA/M. Livio & Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

Spies Majestic Space Mountains This turbulent cosmic pinnacle lies within a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, some 7500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina. Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed the pillar on 1-2 February 2010.

Glowing Nebula Reveals Cosmic Cat's Paw


This 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.

'Space Jellyfish' and Cosmic Blobs Seen by Hubble Telescope

NASA/ESA and L. Ricci (ESO)

This new atlas features 30 proplyds, or protoplanetary discs, that were recently discovered in the majestic Orion Nebula using the Hubble Space Telescope.

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