Photograph courtesy NASA/ESA/C. R. O'Dell (Vanderbilt University)
The familiar eyeball shape of the Helix Nebula shows only two dimensions of this complex celestial body. But new observations suggest it may actually be composed of two gaseous disks nearly perpendicular to each other.
Henize 206 Nebula
Photograph courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech
This false-color infrared image captured by the Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Henize 206 Nebula, a massive cloud of gas and dust in which hundreds and possibly thousands of new stars have formed over the last ten million years. The nebula, located just outside the Milky Way in a galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud, offers astrophysicists a celestial ringside seat on the death and rebirth of stars.
Photograph courtesy NASA/Andrew Fruchter (STScI)
The Eskimo Nebula got its name because the astronomer who discovered it in 1787 thought it looked like a person's head surrounded by a parka hood. This highly detailed image taken in 2000 by the Hubble Space Telescope, however, reveals a much more complex structure, one which astrophysicists are still trying to explain.
Photograph courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
An infrared image of the Rosette Nebula shows super-hot O stars (blue dots inside spheres) amid a torrent of gas and dust (green and red). This star-forming nebula, which lies 5,000 light-years away in the constellation Monoceros, is named for its rosebud-like shape when seen using only optical light.
Photograph courtesy NASA/C. R. O'Dell (Rice University)
This true-color mosaic captured by the Hubble Space Telescope shows a small portion of the Orion Nebula. The image provides unprecedented detail of the nebula, revealing elongated objects oriented on the region's brightest stars, rapidly expanding plumes of material around young stars, and protoplanetary disks.
Eagle Nebula Gas Pillars
Photograph courtesy NASA, ESA, STScI, J. Hester and P. Scowen (Arizona State University)
This dark column of cool molecular hydrogen gas and dust is part of the Eagle Nebula, a star-forming region 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Serpens. In this image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, new stars can been seen inside fingerlike protrusions extending from the top of the nebula. Each "fingertip" is slightly larger than our entire solar system.
Cat's Eye Nebula
Photograph courtesy J.P. Harrington and K.J. Borkowski (University of Maryland) and NASA
The Cat's Eye Nebula contains some of the most complex gas formations astronomers have ever seen, including concentric shells, high-speed jets, and unusual shock-induced knots. Some scientists think the nebula's intricate structures suggest it is a double-star system.
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