Beautiful Nebulae Collection


Ultra-HD collection of the best 60 NASA nebulae photos.  

The data captured by NASA telescopes has been carefully combined and reprocessed in October 2021 by space artist Pablo Carlos Budassi to obtain these unique canvases that plunge us into the depths of space with its hyper-realistic and mystical style.

⇊  Let's explore each and every one!  ⇊


In the center of this star-forming region, a massive star is forming. The developing star is blasting cavities through the clouds with a pair of powerful jets, extending to the top right and bottom left of the photograph. The image of the strikingly beautiful stellar nursery was captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This is a new enhanced and reprocessed version by Budassi.


The Horsehead Nebula (also known as Barnard 33) is a small dark nebula in the constellation Orion. The nebula is located just to the south of Alnitak, the easternmost star of Orion's Belt, and is part of the much larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. It appears within the southern region of the dense dust cloud known as Lynds 1630, along the edge of the much larger, active star-forming H II region called IC 434. The Horsehead Nebula is approximately 422 parsecs or 1,375 light-years from Earth. It is one of the most identifiable nebulae because of its resemblance to a horse's head. This new version was enhanced and processed in 2021 by Budassi.


Mystic Mountain is a photograph and a term for a region in the Carina Nebula imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. The view was captured by the then-new Wide Field Camera 3, though the region was also viewed by the previous generation instrument. Mystic Mountain contains multiple Herbig–Haro objects where nascent stars are firing off jets of gas which interact with surrounding clouds of gas and dust. This region is about 7,500 light-years (2,300 parsecs) away from Earth. The pillar measures around three light-years in height (190,000 astronomical units). This new version of the image was enhanced and reprocessed in 2021 by Budassi, obtaining a higher resolution and definition never achieved before.


NGC 6302 (also known as the Bug Nebula, Butterfly Nebula, or Caldwell 69) is a bipolar planetary nebula in the constellation Scorpius. The structure in the nebula is among the most complex ever observed in planetary nebulae. The spectrum of NGC 6302 shows that its central star is one of the hottest stars known, with a surface temperature in excess of 250,000 degrees Celsius, implying that the star from which it formed must have been very large. The central star, a white dwarf, was identified in 2009, using the upgraded Wide Field Camera 3 on board the Hubble Space Telescope. The star has a current mass of around 0.64 solar masses. It is surrounded by a dense equatorial disc composed of gas and dust. This dense disc is postulated to have caused the star's outflows to form a bipolar structure similar to an hourglass. This bipolar structure shows features such as ionization walls, knots and sharp edges to the lobes.

✳︎    FLOWER NEBULA - M1-67    ✳︎

M1-67 is an ejecta nebula that surrounds the Wolf–Rayet star WR 124 which is about 5.87 kpc located in the Constellation of Sagitta. It has dust, which absorbs much of the light that is emitted by WR 124 when it was blown by solar wind. It was discovered by American astronomer Paul W. Merrill in the year of 1938, which he also discovered the star that it surrounds. The size of it is approximately 6 years across, making it about 20,000 years old.


The Dumbbell Nebula (also known as the Apple Core Nebula, Messier 27, and NGC 6853) is a planetary nebula (nebulosity surrounding a white dwarf) in the constellation Vulpecula, at a distance of about 1360 light-years. It was the first such nebula to be discovered, by Charles Messier in 1764. At its brightness of visual magnitude 7.5 and diameter of about 8 arcminutes, it is easily visible in binoculars and is a popular observing target in amateur telescopes.

✳︎    BUBBLE NEBULA    ✳︎

NGC 7635, also known as the Bubble Nebula, Sharpless 162, or Caldwell 11, is an H II region emission nebula in the constellation Cassiopeia. It lies close to the direction of the open cluster Messier 52. The "bubble" is created by the stellar wind from a massive hot, 8.7 magnitude young central star, SAO 20575 (BD+60°2522). The nebula is near a giant molecular cloud which contains the expansion of the bubble nebula while itself being excited by the hot central star, causing it to glow. It was discovered in 1787 by William Herschel. The star BD+60°2522 is thought to have a mass of about 44 Solar masses.

✳︎    CAT'S EYE NEBULA     ✳︎

The Cat's Eye Nebula (also known as NGC 6543 and Caldwell 6) is a planetary nebula in the northern constellation of Draco, discovered by William Herschel on February 15, 1786. It was the first planetary nebula whose spectrum was investigated by the English amateur astronomer William Huggins, demonstrating that planetary nebulae were gaseous and not stellar in nature. Structurally, the object has had high-resolution images by the Hubble Space Telescope revealing knots, jets, bubbles and complex arcs, being illuminated by the central hot planetary nebula nucleus (PNN). It is a well-studied object that has been observed from radio to X-ray wavelengths.

✳︎     PACMAN NEBULA    ✳︎

NGC 281, IC 11 or Sh2-184 is a bright emission nebula and part of an H II region in the northern constellation of Cassiopeia and is part of the Milky Way's Perseus Spiral Arm. This 20×30 arcmin sized nebulosity is also associated with open cluster IC 1590, several Bok globules and the multiple star, B 1. It collectively forms Sh2-184, spanning over a larger area of 40 arcmin. A recent distance from radio parallaxes of water masers at 22 GHz made during 2014 is estimated it lies 2.82±0.20 kpc. (9200 ly.) from us. Colloquially, NGC 281 is also known as the Pacman Nebula for its resemblance to the video game character. Edward Emerson Barnard discovered the nebula in August 1883, describing it as "a large faint nebula, very diffuse." Multiple star 'B 1' or β 1 was later discovered by S. W. Burnham, whose bright component is identified as the highly luminous O6 spectral class star, HD 5005 or HIP 4121. It consists of an 8th-magnitude primary with four companions at distances between 1.4 and 15.7 arcsec. There has been no appreciable change in this quintuple system since the first measures were made in 1875.

✳︎     HELIX NEBULA    ✳︎

The Helix Nebula (also known as NGC 7293 or Caldwell 63) is a planetary nebula located in the constellation Aquarius. Discovered by Karl Ludwig Harding, probably before 1824, this object is one of the closest to the Earth of all the bright planetary nebulae. The distance, measured by the Gaia mission, is 655±13 light-years. It is similar in appearance to the Cat's Eye Nebula and the Ring Nebula, whose size, age, and physical characteristics are similar to the Dumbbell Nebula, varying only in its relative proximity and the appearance from the equatorial viewing angle. The Helix Nebula has sometimes been referred to as the "Eye of God" in pop culture, as well as the "Eye of Sauron".

✳︎     CARINA NEBULA     ✳︎

The Carina Nebula or Eta Carinae Nebula (catalogued as NGC 3372) is a large, complex area of bright and dark nebulosity in the constellation Carina, and it is located in the Carina–Sagittarius Arm. The nebula is approximately 8,500 light-years (2,600 pc) from Earth. The nebula has within its boundaries the large Carina OB1 association and several related open clusters, including numerous O-type stars and several Wolf–Rayet stars. Carina OB1 encompasses the star clusters Trumpler 14 and Trumpler 16. Trumpler 14 is one of the youngest known star clusters at half a million years old. Trumpler 16 is the home of WR 25, currently the most luminous star known in our Milky Way galaxy, together with the less luminous but more massive and famous Eta Carinae star system and the O2 supergiant HD 93129A. Trumpler 15, Collinder 228, Collinder 232, NGC 3324, and NGC 3293 are also considered members of the association. NGC 3293 is the oldest and furthest from Trumpler 14, indicating sequential and ongoing star formation. The nebula is one of the largest diffuse nebulae in our skies. Although it is four times as large as and even brighter than the famous Orion Nebula, the Carina Nebula is much less well known due to its location in the southern sky. 

✳︎     RETINA NEBULA    ✳︎

IC 4406, known as the Retina Nebula or Box Nebula, is a planetary nebula near the western border of the constellation Lupus, the Wolf. It has dust clouds and has the shape of a torus. Despite this, it looks somewhat rectangular because it is seen from its side as viewed from Earth, almost in the plane of its equator.

Structure IC 4406 is bipolar and appears to be a prolate spheroid with strong concentrations of material in its equator. This kind of structure is a natural product of a bipolar model. The knots of IC 4406 have a "lacy" appearance and have no ordered symmetry towards the central star. The knots have no tails. None of the features have bright edges. An analysis of Gaia data suggests that the central star may be a binary system.

✳︎     LAGOON NEBULA     ✳︎

Gas and dust condense, beginning the process of creating new stars in this image of Messier 8, also known as the Lagoon Nebula. Located four to five thousand light-years away, in the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer), the nebula is a giant interstellar cloud, one hundred light-years across. It boasts many large, hot stars, whose ultraviolet radiation sculpts the gas and dust into unusual shapes. Two of these giant stars illuminate the brightest part of the nebula, known as the Hourglass Nebula, a spiralling, funnel-like shape near its centre. Messier 8 is one of the few star-forming nebulae visible to the unaided eye, and was discovered as long ago as 1747, although the full range of colours wasn’t visible until the advent of more powerful telescopes. The Lagoon Nebula derives its name from the wide lagoon-shaped dark lane located in the middle of the nebula that divides it into two glowing sections. This image combines observations performed through three different filters (B, V, R) with the 1.5-metre Danish telescope at the ESO La Silla Observatory in Chile. The processing for this version was done by Budassi in 2021.

✳︎     AG CARINAE    ✳︎

AG Carinae (AG Car) is a star in the constellation Carina. It is classified as a luminous blue variable (LBV) and is one of the most luminous stars in the Milky Way. The great distance (20,000 light-years) and intervening dust mean that the star is not usually visible to the naked eye; its apparent brightness varies erratically between magnitude 5.7 and 9.0.  The star is surrounded by a nebula of ejected material at 0.4–1.2 pc from the star. The nebula contains around 15 M☉, all lost from the star around 10,000 years ago. There is an 8.8-parsec-wide empty cavity in the interstellar medium around the star, presumably cleared by fast winds earlier in the star's life.


The Elephant's Trunk Nebula is a concentration of interstellar gas and dust within the much larger ionized gas region IC 1396 located in the constellation Cepheus about 2,400 light years away from Earth. The piece of the nebula shown here is the dark, dense globule IC 1396A; it is commonly called the Elephant's Trunk nebula because of its appearance at visible light wavelengths, where there is a dark patch with a bright, sinuous rim. The bright rim is the surface of the dense cloud that is being illuminated and ionized by a very bright, massive star (HD 206267) that is just to the east of IC 1396A. (In the Spitzer Space Telescope view shown, the massive star is just to the left of the edge of the image.) The entire IC 1396 region is ionized by the massive star, except for dense globules that can protect themselves from the star's harsh ultraviolet rays. The Elephant's Trunk Nebula is now thought to be a site of star formation, containing several very young (less than 100,000 yr) stars that were discovered in infrared images in 2003. Two older (but still young, a couple of million years, by the standards of stars, which live for billions of years) stars are present in a small, circular cavity in the head of the globule. Winds from these young stars may have emptied the cavity. The combined action of the light from the massive star ionizing and compressing the rim of the cloud, and the wind from the young stars shifting gas from the center outward lead to very high compression in the Elephant's Trunk Nebula. This pressure has triggered the current generation of protostars.

✳︎      LOBSTER NEBULA    ✳︎

NGC 6357 is a diffuse nebula near NGC 6334 in the constellation Scorpius. The nebula contains many proto-stars shielded by dark discs of gas, and young stars wrapped in expanding "cocoons" or expanding gases surrounding these small stars. It is also known as the Lobster Nebula and the Madokami Nebula by some fans of the Japanese anime Madoka Magica due to its resemblance to the main character from the anime, and a popular fan petition to rename it. This nebula was also given the name War and Peace Nebula by the Midcourse Space Experiment scientists because of its appearance, which, in infrared images the bright, western part resembles a dove, while the eastern part looks like a skull.

✳︎    BOW NEBULA NGC 2440    ✳︎

NGC 2440 is a planetary nebula, one of many in our galaxy. Its central star, HD 62166, is possibly the hottest known white dwarf. The nebula is situated in the constellation Puppis. It was discovered by William Herschel on March 4, 1790. He described it as "a beautiful planetary nebula of a considerable degree of brightness, not very well defined." The nebula is located about 1.23 kiloparsecs (3.79×1019 m) or about 4,000 light years from the Sun.

✳︎    EAGLE NEBULA    ✳︎

The Eagle Nebula (catalogued as Messier 16 or M16, and as NGC 6611, and also known as the Star Queen Nebula and The Spire) is a young open cluster of stars in the constellation Serpens, discovered by Jean-Philippe de Cheseaux in 1745–46. Both the "Eagle" and the "Star Queen" refer to visual impressions of the dark silhouette near the center of the nebula, an area made famous as the "Pillars of Creation" imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. The nebula contains several active star-forming gas and dust regions, including the aforementioned Pillars of Creation. The Eagle Nebula lies in the Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way.


Pillars of Creation is a photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of elephant trunks of interstellar gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula, in the Serpens constellation, some 6,500–7,000 light years from Earth. They are so named because the gas and dust are in the process of creating new stars, while also being eroded by the light from nearby stars that have recently formed. Taken on April 1, 1995, it was named one of the top ten photographs from Hubble by space experts. The astronomers responsible for the photo were Jeff Hester and Paul Scowen from Arizona State University. The region was rephotographed by ESA's Herschel Space Observatory in 2011, and again by Hubble in 2014 with a newer camera.  The image is noted for its global culture impact, with National Geographic noting on its 20th anniversary that the image had been featured on everything from "t-shirts to coffee-mugs".


IC 405 (also known as the Flaming Star Nebula, SH 2-229, or Caldwell 31) is an emission and reflection nebula in the constellation Auriga north of the celestial equator, surrounding the bluish star AE Aurigae. It shines at magnitude +6.0. Its celestial coordinates are RA 05h 16.2m dec +34° 28′. It surrounds the irregular variable star AE Aurigae and is located near the emission nebula IC 410, the open clusters M38 and M36, and the K-class star Iota Aurigae. The nebula measures approximately 37.0' x 19.0', and lies about 1,500 light-years away from Earth. It is believed that the proper motion of the central star can be traced back to the Orion's Belt area. The nebula is about 5 light-years across.

✳︎    DOLPHIN NEBULA    ✳︎

Sh2-308, also designated as Sharpless 308, RCW 11, or LBN 1052, is an H II region located near the center of the constellation Canis Major, composed of ionised hydrogen. It is about 8 degrees south of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. The nebula is bubble-like (hence its common name, the Cosmic Bubble – though more commonly known in recent years as the Dolphin Nebula), surrounding a Wolf–Rayet star named EZ Canis Majoris. This star is in the brief, pre-supernova phase of its stellar evolution. The nebula is about 4,530 light-years (1,389 parsecs) away from Earth, but some sources indicate that both the star and the nebula are up to 5,870 ly (1,800 pc) away. Yet others indicate the nebula is as close as 1,875 ly (575 pc) from Earth.

✳︎    ORION NEBULA    ✳︎

The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula situated in the Milky Way, being south of Orion's Belt in the constellation of Orion It is one of the brightest nebulae and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. It is 1,344 ± 20 light-years (412.1 ± 6.1 pc) away and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. The M42 nebula is estimated to be 24 light-years across. It has a mass of about 2,000 times that of the Sun. Older texts frequently refer to the Orion Nebula as the Great Nebula in Orion or the Great Orion Nebula. The Orion Nebula is one of the most scrutinized and photographed objects in the night sky and is among the most intensely studied celestial features. The nebula has revealed much about the process of how stars and planetary systems are formed from collapsing clouds of gas and dust. Astronomers have directly observed protoplanetary disks and brown dwarfs within the nebula, intense and turbulent motions of the gas, and the photo-ionizing effects of massive nearby stars in the nebula.


The Red Rectangle Nebula, so called because of its red color and unique rectangular shape, is a protoplanetary nebula in the Monoceros constellation. Also known as HD 44179, the nebula was discovered in 1973 during a rocket flight associated with the AFCRL Infrared Sky Survey called Hi Star. The binary system at the center of the nebula was first discovered by Robert Grant Aitken in 1915.

Characteristics High-resolution images of it in visible and near infrared light reveal a highly symmetric, compact bipolar nebula with X-shaped spikes which imply anisotropic dispersion of the circumstellar material. The central binary system is completely obscured, providing no direct light. 

The Red Rectangle is known to be particularly rich in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The presence of such carbon-bearing macromolecules in the X-shaped nebular component, while the equatorial regions are known to contain silicate-rich (O-bearing) dust grains, was interpreted as due to a change of the O/C abundance ratio of the primary star during its late evolution. However, PAHs could also be formed as a result of the development of a central photondissociation region, a region in which a very active chemistry appears due to dissociation of stable molecules by the UV emission of the central stellar system. The Red Rectangle was the first nebula around an evolved star in which an equatorial disk in rotation was well identified (the existence of such disks has been demonstrated only in a few of these objects, only expansion is observed in most of them). However, the disk absorbs the stellar light and is practically not seen in the beautiful optical image, which mainly represents a relatively diffuse outflow that is very probably formed of material extracted from the denser disk. The distinct rungs suggest several episodes of increased ejection rate. The Red Rectangle is a proto-planetary nebula.

 The Hubble Space Telescope has revealed a wealth of new features in the Red Rectangle that cannot be seen by ground-based telescopes looking through Earth's turbulent atmosphere. The origins of many of the features in this dying star, in particular its X-shaped image, still remain hidden or even outright mysterious. The presence of a conspicuous bipolar symmetry is usual in protoplanetary and planetary nebulae. Theorists have shown that this axial symmetry can appear as a result of shocks due to interaction of different phases of the stellar winds (characteristic of the late stellar evolution), but its origin is still debated. On the other hand, the X-like shape and the low velocity of the outflowing gas in the Red Rectangle are peculiar, probably because its origin (associated to a stable, extended disk) is different than for most protoplanetary nebulae.


The Soap Bubble Nebula, or PN G75.5+1.7, is a planetary nebula in the constellation Cygnus, near the Crescent Nebula (NGC 6888). It was discovered by amateur astronomer Dave Jurasevich using an Astro-Physics 160 mm refractor telescope with which he imaged the nebula on June 19, 2007 and on July 6, 2008. The nebula was later independently noted and reported to the International Astronomical Union by Keith. B. Quattrocchi and Mel Helm who imaged PN G75.5+1.7 on July 17, 2008.


✳︎     SEAGULL NEBULA    ✳︎

IC 2177 is a region of nebulosity that lies along the border between the constellations Monoceros and Canis Major. It is a roughly circular H II region centered on the Be star HD 53367. This nebula was discovered by Welsh amateur astronomer Isaac Roberts and was described by him as "pretty bright, extremely large, irregularly round, very diffuse." The name Seagull Nebula is applied by astronomers to this emission region, although it more properly includes the neighboring regions of star clusters, dust clouds and reflection nebulae. This latter region includes the open clusters NGC 2335 and NGC 2343. NGC 2327 is located in IC 2177. It is also known as the Seagull's Head, due to its larger presence in the Seagull nebula.


NGC 6751, also known as the Glowing Eye Nebula or the Dandelion Puffball Nebula, is a planetary nebula in the constellation Aquila. It is estimated to be about 6,500 light-years (2.0 kiloparsecs) away. NGC 6751 was discovered by the astronomer Albert Marth on 20 July 1863. John Louis Emil Dreyer, the compiler of the New General Catalogue, described the object as "pretty bright, small". The object was assigned a duplicate designation, NGC 6748. The nebula was the subject of the winning picture in the 2009 Gemini School Astronomy Contest, in which Australian high school students competed to select an astronomical target to be imaged by Gemini. NGC 6751 is an easy telescopic target for deep-sky observers because its location is immediately southeast of the extremely red-colored cool carbon star V Aquilae.

✳︎   FOX FUR NEBULA   ✳︎

NGC 2264 is the designation number of the New General Catalogue that identifies two astronomical objects as a single object: the Cone Nebula, and the Christmas Tree Cluster. Two other objects are within this designation but not officially included, the Snowflake Cluster, and the Fox Fur Nebula. All of the objects are located in the Monoceros constellation and are located about 720 parsecs or 2,300 light-years from Earth. NGC 2264 is sometimes referred to as the Christmas Tree Cluster and the Cone Nebula. However, the designation of NGC 2264 in the New General Catalogue refers to both objects and not the cluster alone. NGC 2264 is the location where the Cone Nebula, the Stellar Snowflake Cluster and the Christmas Tree Cluster have formed in this emission nebula. For reference, the Stellar Snowflake Cluster is located 2,700 light years away in the constellation Monoceros. The Monoceros constellation is not typically visible by the naked eye due to its lack of colossal stars.


✳︎   WING NEBULA    ✳︎

NGC 602 is a young, bright open cluster of stars located in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way. It is embedded in a nebula known as N90. Radiation and shock waves from the stars of NGC 602 have pushed away much of the lighter surrounding gas and dust that is N90, and this in turn has triggered new star formation in the ridges (or "elephant trunks") of the nebula. These even younger, pre-main sequence stars are still enshrouded in dust but are visible to the Spitzer Space Telescope at infrared wavelengths. The cluster is of particular interest because it is located in the wing of the SMC leading to the Magellanic Bridge. Hence, while its chemical properties should be similar to those of the rest of the galaxy, it is relatively isolated and so easier to study. NGC 602 contains three main condensations of stars. The central core is NGC 602a, with the compact NGC 602b 100 arc-seconds to the NNW. NGC 602c is a looser grouping 11 arc-minutes to the NE, which includes the WO star AB8. NGC 602 includes many young O and B stars and young stellar objects, with few evolved stars. Ionisation in the nebula is dominated by Sk 183, an extremely hot O3 main sequence star visible as the bright isolated star at the centre of the Hubble image.

✳︎    CRAB NEBULA    ✳︎

The Crab Nebula (catalogue designations M1, NGC 1952, Taurus A) is a supernova remnant and pulsar wind nebula in the constellation of Taurus. The common name comes from William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse, who observed the object in 1842 using a 36-inch (91 cm) telescope and produced a drawing that looked somewhat like a crab. The nebula was discovered by English astronomer John Bevis in 1731, and it corresponds with a bright supernova recorded by Chinese astronomers in 1054. The nebula was the first astronomical object identified that corresponds with a historical supernova explosion. At an apparent magnitude of 8.4, comparable to that of Saturn's moon Titan, it is not visible to the naked eye but can be made out using binoculars under favourable conditions. The nebula lies in the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way galaxy, at a distance of about 2.0 kiloparsecs (6,500 ly) from Earth. It has a diameter of 3.4 parsecs (11 ly), corresponding to an apparent diameter of some 7 arcminutes, and is expanding at a rate of about 1,500 kilometres per second (930 mi/s), or 0.5% of the speed of light. At the center of the nebula lies the Crab Pulsar, a neutron star 28–30 kilometres (17–19 mi) across with a spin rate of 30.2 times per second, which emits pulses of radiation from gamma rays to radio waves. At X-ray and gamma ray energies above 30 keV, the Crab Nebula is generally the brightest persistent gamma-ray source in the sky, with measured flux extending to above 10 TeV. The nebula's radiation allows detailed study of celestial bodies that occult it. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Sun's corona was mapped from observations of the Crab Nebula's radio waves passing through it, and in 2003, the thickness of the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan was measured as it blocked out X-rays from the nebula.

✳︎    RS PUPPIS    ✳︎

RS Puppis (or RS Pup) is a Cepheid variable star around 6,000 ly away in the constellation of Puppis. It is one of the biggest and brightest known Cepheids in the Milky Way galaxy and has one of the longest periods for this class of star at 41.5 days. 

RS Puppis is a supergiant with a spectral classification of G2Ib, although its spectral type varies between F9 and G7 as its temperature changes. It lies on the instability strip and based on the rate of change of its period is thought to be crossing it for the third time. The third crossing occurs as a star is evolving towards cooler temperatures for the second time after performing a blue loop. The third crossing of the instability strip occurs much more slowly than the first crossing just after a star leaves the main sequence.

✳︎    OMEGA NEBULA     ✳︎

The photograph, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, captures a small region within M17, a hotbed of star formation. M17, also known as the Omega or Swan Nebula, is located about 5500 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius. The wave-like patterns of gas have been sculpted and illuminated by a torrent of ultraviolet radiation from young, massive stars, which lie outside the picture to the upper left. The glow of these patterns accentuates the three-dimensional structure of the gases. The ultraviolet radiation is carving and heating the surfaces of cold hydrogen gas clouds. The warmed surfaces glow orange and red in this photograph. The intense heat and pressure cause some material to stream away from those surfaces, creating the glowing veil of even hotter greenish gas that masks background structures. The pressure on the tips of the waves may trigger new star formation within them. Image enhanced and reprocessed in 2021 by P. C. Budassi.



The Vela supernova remnant is a supernova remnant in the southern constellation Vela. Its source Type II supernova exploded approximately 11,000–12,300 years ago (and was about 800 light-years away). The association of the Vela supernova remnant with the Vela pulsar, made by astronomers at the University of Sydney in 1968, was direct observational evidence that supernovae form neutron stars. The Vela supernova remnant includes NGC 2736. It also overlaps the Puppis A supernova remnant, which is four times more distant. Both the Puppis and Vela remnants are among the largest and brightest features in the X-ray sky.


✳︎    JEWEL BUG NEBULA    ✳︎

NGC 7027, Also known as the Jewel Bug Nebula, is a very young and dense planetary nebula located around 3,000 light-years (920 parsecs) from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. Discovered in 1878 by Édouard Stephan using the 800 mm (31 in) reflector at Marseille Observatory, it is one of the smallest planetary nebulae and by far the most extensively studied.

NGC 7027 is one of the visually brightest planetary nebulae. It is about 600 years old. It is unusually small, measuring only 0.2 by 0.1 light-years, whereas the typical size for a planetary nebula is 1 light-year. It has a very complex shape, consisting of an elliptical region of ionized gas within a massive neutral cloud. The inner structure is surrounded by a translucent shroud of gas and dust. The nebula is shaped like a prolate ellipsoidal shell and contains a photodissociation region shaped like a "clover leaf". NGC 7027 is expanding at 17 kilometers per second (11 mi/s). The central regions of NGC 7027 have been found to emit X-rays, indicating very high temperatures. Surrounding the ellipsoidal nebula are a series of faint, blue concentric shells. It is possible that the central white dwarf of NGC 7027 has an accretion disk that acts as a source of high temperatures. The white dwarf is believed to have a mass approximately 0.7 times the mass of the Sun and is radiating at 7,700 times the Sun's luminosity. NGC 7027 is currently in a short phase of planetary nebula evolution in which molecules in its envelope are being dissociated into their component atoms, and the atoms are being ionized. The expanding halo of NGC 7027 has a mass of about three times the mass of the Sun, and is about 100 times more massive than the ionized central region. This mass loss in NGC 7027 provided important evidence that stars a few times more massive than the Sun can avoid being destroyed in supernova explosions.



NGC 1555, sometimes known as Hind's Variable Nebula, is a variable nebula, illuminated by the star T Tauri, located in the constellation Taurus. It is also in the second Sharpless catalog as 238. It is a Herbig–Haro object. The nebula was discovered on October 11, 1852, by John Russell Hind.

✳︎    N44 SUPERBUBBLE    ✳︎

N44 is an emission nebula with superbubble structure located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way in the constellation Dorado. Originally catalogued in Karl Henize's "Catalogue of H-alpha emission stars and nebulae in the Magellanic Clouds" of 1956, it is approximately 1,000 light-years wide and 160,000-170,000 light-years distant. N44 has a smaller bubble structure inside known as N44F. The superbubble structure of N44 itself is shaped by the radiation pressure of a 40-star group located near its center; the stars are blue-white, very luminous, and incredibly powerful. N44F has been shaped in a similar manner; it has a hot, massive central star with an unusually powerful stellar wind that moves at 7 million kilometers per hour. This is because it loses material at 100 million times the rate of the Sun, or approximately 1,000,000,000,000,000 tons per year. However, varying density in the N44 nebula has caused the formation of several dust pillars that may conceal star formation. This variable density is likely caused by previous supernovae in the vicinity of N44; many of the stars that have shaped it will eventually also end as supernovae. The past effects of supernovae are also confirmed by the fact that N44 emits x-rays.

NGC 3132 (also known as the Eight-Burst Nebula, the Southern Ring Nebula, or Caldwell 74) is a bright and extensively studied planetary nebula in the constellation Vela. Its distance from Earth is estimated at about 613 pc. or 2,000 light-years. Images of NGC 3132 reveal two stars close together within the nebulosity, one of 10th magnitude, the other 16th. The central planetary nebula nucleus (PNN) or white dwarf central star is the fainter of these two stars. This hot central star of about 100,000 K has now blown off its layers and is making the nebula fluoresce brightly from the emission of its intense ultraviolet radiation.


NGC 1893 is an open cluster in the constellation Auriga. It is about 12,400 light years away. The star cluster is embedded in the HII region IC 410. Images of the star cluster by the Chandra X-ray Observatory suggest that it contains approximately 4600 young stellar objects.


The Crescent Nebula (also known as NGC 6888, Caldwell 27, Sharpless 105) is an emission nebula in the constellation Cygnus, about 5000 light-years away from Earth. It was discovered by William Herschel in 1792. It is formed by the fast stellar wind from the Wolf-Rayet star WR 136 (HD 192163) colliding with and energizing the slower moving wind ejected by the star when it became a red giant around 250,000 to 400,000 years ago. The result of the collision is a shell and two shock waves, one moving outward and one moving inward. The inward moving shock wave heats the stellar wind to X-ray-emitting temperatures. It is a rather faint object located about 2 degrees SW of Sadr. For most telescopes it requires a UHC or OIII filter to see. Under favorable circumstances a telescope as small as 8 cm (with filter) can see its nebulosity. Larger telescopes (20 cm or more) reveal the crescent or a Euro sign shape which makes some to call it the "Euro sign nebula".

✳︎    TULIP NEBULA    ✳︎

Sharpless 101 (Sh2-101) is a H II region emission nebula located in the constellation Cygnus. It is sometimes also called the Tulip Nebula because it appears to resemble the outline of a tulip when imaged photographically. It was catalogued by astronomer Stewart Sharpless in his 1959 catalog of nebulae. It lies at a distance of about 6,000 light-years (5.7×1016 km; 3.5×1016 mi) from Earth. 

Sh2-101, at least in the field seen from Earth, is in close proximity to microquasar Cygnus X-1, site of one of the first suspected black holes. Cygnus X-1 is located just out of the field of view of the photo in the infobox. The companion star of Cygnus X-1 is a spectral class O9.7 Iab supergiant with a mass of 21 solar masses and 20 times the radius of the Sun. The period of the binary system is 5.8 days and the pair is separated by 0.2 astronomical units. The black hole has a mass of 15 solar masses and a Schwarzschild radius of 45 km. A bowshock is created by a jet of energetic particles from the black hole as they interact with the interstellar medium. It can be seen as an arc at the top of the photo on the left.

✳︎    SOUL NEBULA    ✳︎

Westerhout 5 (Sharpless 2-199, LBN 667, Soul Nebula) is an emission nebula located in Cassiopeia. Several small open clusters are embedded in the nebula: CR 34, 632, and 634 (in the head) and IC 1848 (in the body). The object is more commonly called by the cluster designation IC 1848. W5, a radio source within the nebula, spans an area of sky equivalent to four full moons and is about 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. Like other massive star-forming regions, such as Orion and Carina, W5 contains large cavities that were carved out by radiation and winds from the region's most massive stars. According to the theory of triggered star formation, the carving out of these cavities pushes gas together, causing it to ignite into successive generations of new stars. The image above contains some of the best evidence yet for the triggered star formation theory. Scientists analyzing the photo have been able to show that the ages of the stars become progressively and systematically younger with distance from the center of the cavities.


The Southern Crab Nebula (or WRAY-16-47 or Hen 2-104) is a nebula in the constellation Centaurus. The nebula is several thousand light years from Earth, and its central star is a symbiotic Mira variable - white dwarf pair. It is named for its resemblance to the Crab Nebula, which is in the northern sky. The Southern Crab was noted in a 1967 catalog, and was also observed using a CCD imager with the 2.2 meter telescope at the La Sila observatory in 1989. The 1989 observation marked a major expansion of knowledge about the nebula, and it was observed using various filters.

 The nebula had already been observed using Earth-based telescopes, but images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope in 1999 have provided much more detail, revealing that at the center of the nebula are a pair of stars, a red giant and a white dwarf. It was imaged again by HST in 2019 with a newer instrument. In 1999 it was imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, noted for its unique "stair-step" crop.


This image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope reveals the complex life cycle of young stars, from their dust-shrouded beginnings to their stellar debuts. The stellar nursery was spotted in a cosmic cloud sitting 21,000 light-years away in the Cepheus constellation.


The Tarantula Nebula (also known as 30 Doradus) is an H II region in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), from the Solar System's perspective forming its south-east corner. The Tarantula Nebula has an apparent magnitude of 8. Considering its distance of about 49 kpc (160,000 light-years), this is an extremely luminous non-stellar object. Its luminosity is so great that if it were as close to Earth as the Orion Nebula, the Tarantula Nebula would cast visible shadows. In fact, it is the most active starburst region known in the Local Group of galaxies. It is also one of the largest H II regions in the Local Group with an estimated diameter around 200 to 570 pc, and also because of its very large size, it is sometimes described as the largest, although other H II regions such as NGC 604, which is in the Triangulum Galaxy, could be larger. The nebula resides on the leading edge of the LMC where ram pressure stripping, and the compression of the interstellar medium likely resulting from this, is at a maximum.


The Rosette Nebula (also known as Caldwell 49) is an H II region located near one end of a giant molecular cloud in the Monoceros region of the Milky Way Galaxy. The open cluster NGC 2244 (Caldwell 50) is closely associated with the nebulosity, the stars of the cluster having been formed from the nebula's matter. 

 The cluster and nebula lie at a distance of 5,000 light-years from Earth) and measure roughly 130 light years in diameter. The radiation from the young stars excites the atoms in the nebula, causing them to emit radiation themselves producing the emission nebula we see. The mass of the nebula is estimated to be around 10,000 solar masses. 

A survey of the nebula with the Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed the presence of numerous new-born stars inside optical Rosette Nebula and studded within a dense molecular cloud. Altogether, approximately 2500 young stars lie in this star-forming complex, including the massive O-type stars HD 46223 and HD 46150, which are primarily responsible for blowing the ionized bubble. Most of the ongoing star-formation activity is occurring in the dense molecular cloud to the south east of the bubble. 

A diffuse X-ray glow is also seen between the stars in the bubble, which has been attributed to a super-hot plasma with temperatures ranging from 1 to 10 million K. This is significantly hotter than the 10,000 K plasmas seen in HII regions, and is likely attributed to the shock-heated winds from the massive O-type stars.


NGC 3918 is a bright planetary nebula in the constellation Centaurus, nicknamed the "Blue Planetary" or "The Southerner". It is the brightest of the far southern planetary nebulae. This nebula was discovered by Sir John Herschel in March 1834 and is easily visible through small telescopes.

 The round or even slightly oval diameter is telescopically between 8 and 10 arcsec, though deep images extends this to about 19 or 20 arcsec. More surprising is the beautiful rich blue colour that looks much like the coloured images of Neptune taken by Voyager 2 in 1989. Spectroscopy reveals NGC 3918 is approaching us at 17±3.0 kilometres per second, while the nebulosity is expanding at around 24 kilometres per second. The central star is 14.6 visible light magnitude, and remains invisible to optical observers, as it is obscured by the sheer brightness of the surrounding nebula. The distance is estimated at 1.5 kpc (4 900 Light-years).


NGC 2359 (also known as Thor's Helmet) is an emission nebula in the constellation Canis Major. The nebula is approximately 3,670 parsecs (11.96 thousand light years) away and 30 light-years in size. The central star is the Wolf-Rayet star WR7, an extremely hot star thought to be in a brief pre-supernova stage of evolution. 

It is similar in nature to the Bubble Nebula, but interactions with a nearby large molecular cloud are thought to have contributed to the more complex shape and curved bow-shock structure of Thor's Helmet. It is also catalogued as Sharpless 2-298 and Gum 4. The nebula has an overall bubble shape, but with complex filamentary structures. The nebula contains several hundred solar masses of ionised material, plus several thousand more of unionised gas. It is largely interstellar material swept up by winds from the central star, although some material does appear to be enriched with the products of fusion and is likely to come directly from the star. The expansion rate of different portions of the nebula varies from 10 km/s to at least 30 km/s, leading to age estimates of 78,500 - 236,000 years. The nebula has been studied at radio and x-ray wavelengths, but it is still unclear whether it was produced at the class O main sequence stage of development, as a red supergiant, luminous blue variable, or mainly as a Wolf-Rayet star. NGC 2361 is a bright knot of nebulosity on one edge of the central ring of NGC 2359.

✳︎    TRIFID NEBULA   ✳︎

The Trifid Nebula (catalogued as Messier 20 or M20 and as NGC 6514) is an H II region in the north-west of Sagittarius in a star-forming region in the Milky Way's Scutum-Centaurus Arm. It was discovered by Charles Messier on June 5, 1764. Its name means 'three-lobe'. The object is an unusual combination of an open cluster of stars, an emission nebula (a relatively dense, red-yellow portion), a reflection nebula (the mainly NNE blue portion), and a dark nebula (the apparent 'gaps' in the former that cause the trifurcated appearance also designated Barnard 85). Viewed through a small telescope, the Trifid Nebula is a bright and peculiar object, and is thus a perennial favorite of amateur astronomers. The most massive star that has formed in this region is HD 164492A, an O7.5III star with a mass more than 20 times the mass of the Sun. This star is surrounded by a cluster of approximately 3100 young stars.

✳︎    TWIN JET NEBULA   ✳︎

Minkowski 2-9, abbreviated M2-9 (also known as Minkowski's Butterfly, Twin Jet Nebula, the Wings of a Butterfly Nebula, or just Butterfly Nebula) is a planetary nebula that was discovered by Rudolph Minkowski in 1947. It is located about 2,100 light-years away from Earth in the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus. This bipolar nebula takes the peculiar form of twin lobes of material that emanate from a central star. Astronomers have dubbed this object as the Twin Jet Nebula because of the jets believed to cause the shape of the lobes. Its form also resembles the wings of a butterfly. The nebula was imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope in the 1990s. 

The primary component of the central binary is the hot core of a star that reached the end of its main-sequence life cycle, ejected most of its outer layers and became a red giant, and is now contracting into a white dwarf. It is believed to have been a sun-like star early in its life. The second, smaller star of the binary orbits very closely and may even have been engulfed by the other's expanding stellar atmosphere with the resulting interaction creating the nebula. Astronomers theorize that the gravity of one star pulls some of the gas from the surface of the other and flings it into a thin, dense disk extending into space. The nebula has inflated dramatically due to a fast stellar wind, blowing out into the surrounding disk and inflating the large, wispy hourglass-shaped wings perpendicular to the disk. These wings produce the butterfly appearance when seen in projection. The outer shell is estimated to be about 1,200 years old.

✳︎    VEIL NEBULA   ✳︎

The Veil Nebula is a cloud of heated and ionized gas and dust in the constellation Cygnus. It constitutes the visible portions of the Cygnus Loop, a supernova remnant, many portions of which have acquired their own individual names and catalogue identifiers. The source supernova was a star 20 times more massive than the Sun which exploded between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago. At the time of explosion, the supernova would have appeared brighter than Venus in the sky, and visible in daytime. The remnants have since expanded to cover an area of the sky roughly 3 degrees in diameter (about 6 times the diameter, and 36 times the area, of the full Moon). While previous distance estimates have ranged from 1200 to 5800 light-years, a recent determination of 2400 light-years is based on direct astrometric measurements. (The distance estimates affect also the estimates of size and age.) 

The Hubble Space Telescope captured several images of the nebula. The analysis of the emissions from the nebula indicate the presence of oxygen, sulfur, and hydrogen. The Cygnus Loop is also a strong emitter of radio waves and x-rays.


IC 2118 (also known as Witch Head Nebula due to its shape) is an extremely faint reflection nebula believed to be an ancient supernova remnant or gas cloud illuminated by nearby supergiant star Rigel in the constellation of Orion. It lies in the Orion constellation, about 900 light-years from Earth. The nature of the dust particles, reflecting blue light better than red, is a factor in giving the Witch Head its blue color. Radio observations show substantial carbon monoxide emission throughout parts of IC 2118, an indicator of the presence of molecular clouds and star formation in the nebula. In fact candidates for pre-main sequence stars and some classic T-Tauri stars have been found deep within the nebula. 

The molecular clouds of IC 2118 are probably juxtaposed to the outer boundaries of the vast Orion-Eridanus bubble, a giant supershell of molecular hydrogen blown by the high mass stars of the Orion OB1 association. As the supershell expands into the interstellar medium, favorable circumstances for star formation occur. IC 2118 is located in one such area. The wind blown appearance and cometary shape of the bright reflection nebula is highly suggestive of a strong association with the high mass luminous stars of Orion OB1. The fact that the heads of the cometary clouds of IC2118 point northeast towards the association is strong support of that relationship.

✳︎    WIZARD NEBULA   ✳︎

NGC 7380 is a young open cluster of stars in the northern circumpolar constellation of Cepheus, discovered by Caroline Herschel in 1787. The surrounding emission nebulosity is known colloquially as the Wizard Nebula, which spans an angle of 25′. German-born astronomer William Herschel included his sister's discovery in his catalog, and labelled it H VIII.77. The nebula is known as S 142 in the Sharpless catalog (Sh2-142).

 It is extremely difficult to observe visually, usually requiring very dark skies and an O-III filter. The NGC 7380 complex is located at a distance of approximately 8.5 kilolight-years from the Sun, in the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way. The cluster spans ~20 light-years (6 pc) with an elongated shape and an extended tail. Age estimates range from 4 to 11.9 million years. At the center of the cluster lies DH Cephei, a close, double-lined spectroscopic binary system consisting of two massive O-type stars. This pair are the primary ionizing source for the surrounding H II region, and are driving out the surrounding gas and dust while triggering star formation in the neighboring region. Of the variable stars that have been identified in the cluster, 14 have been identified as pre-main sequence stars while 17 are main sequence stars that are primarily B-type variables.

✳︎    RED SPIDER    ✳︎

The Red Spider Nebula (also catalogued as NGC 6537) is a planetary nebula located near the heart of the Milky Way, in the northwest of the constellation Sagittarius. The nebula has a prominent two-lobed shape, possibly due to a binary companion or magnetic fields and has an ‘S’-shaped symmetry of the lobes – the lobes opposite each other appear similar. This is believed to be due to the presence of a companion to the central white dwarf. However, the gas walls of the two lobed structures are not at all smooth, but rather are rippled in a complex way. The central white dwarf, the remaining compact core of the original star, produces a powerful and hot (≈10,000 K) wind blowing with a speed of 300 kilometers per second, which has generated waves 100 billion kilometres high. The waves are generated by supersonic shocks formed when the local gas is compressed and heated in front of the rapidly expanding lobes. Atoms caught in the shocks radiate a visible light. These winds are what give this nebula its unique 'spider' shape and also contribute to the expansion of the nebula. The star at the center of the Red Spider Nebula is surrounded by a dust shell making its exact properties hard to determine. Its surface temperature is probably 150,000-250,000 K although a temperature of 340,000 K or even 500,000 K is not ruled out, making it among the hottest white dwarf stars known.


Sh2-106 or NGC 1893 is an emission nebula and a star formation region in the constellation Cygnus. It is a H II region estimated to be around 2,000 ly (600 pc) from Earth, in an isolated area of the Milky Way In the center of the nebula is a young and massive star that emits jets of hot gas from its poles, forming the bipolar structure. Dust surrounding the star is also ionized by the star. The nebula spans about 2 light-years across.  Central star The central star, a source of infrared radiation usually referred to as S106 IR or S106 IRS 4, is believed to have been formed only 100,000 years ago. It is a massive star, approximately 15 solar masses. Two jets of matter streaming from its poles heat surrounding matter to a temperature of around 10,000 °C. Dust that is not ionized by the star's jets reflect light from the star. With an estimated surface temperature of 37,000°K, it is classified as a type O8 star. It loses around 10^−6 per year in solar winds, ejecting material at around 100 km/s. Studies of images has revealed that the star-forming region has also created hundreds of low-mass brown dwarf stars and protostars.

✳︎    ANT NEBULA    ✳︎

Mz 3 (Menzel 3) is a young bipolar planetary nebula (PN) in the constellation Norma that is composed of a bright core and four distinct high-velocity outflows that have been named lobes, columns, rays, and chakram. These nebulosities are described as: two spherical bipolar lobes, two outer large filamentary hour-glass shaped columns, two cone shaped rays, and a planar radially expanding, elliptically shaped chakram. Mz 3 is a complex system composed of three nested pairs of bipolar lobes and an equatorial ellipse. Its lobes all share the same axis of symmetry but each have very different morphologies and opening angles. It is an unusual PN in that it is believed, by some researchers, to contain a symbiotic binary at its center. One study suggests that the dense nebular gas at its center may have originated from a source different from that of its extended lobes. The working model to explain this hypothesizes that this PN is composed of a giant companion that caused a central dense gas region to form, and a white dwarf that provides ionizing photons for the PN. Mz 3 is often referred to as the Ant Nebula because it resembles the head and thorax of a garden-variety ant.


NGC 5189 (Gum 47, IC 4274, nicknamed Spiral Planetary Nebula) is a planetary nebula in the constellation Musca. It was discovered by James Dunlop on 1 July 1826, who catalogued it as Δ252. For many years, well into the 1960s, it was thought to be a bright emission nebula. It was Karl Gordon Henize in 1967 who first described NGC 5189 as quasi-planetary based on its spectral emissions. Seen through the telescope it seems to have an S shape, reminiscent of a barred spiral galaxy. The S shape, together with point-symmetric knots in the nebula, have for a long time hinted to astronomers that a binary central star is present. The Hubble Space Telescope imaging analysis showed that this S shape structure is indeed two dense low-ionization regions: one moving toward the north-east and another one moving toward the south-west of the nebula, which could be a result of a recent outburst from the central star. Observations with the Southern African Large Telescope have finally found a white dwarf companion in a 4.04 day orbit around the rare low-mass Wolf-Rayet type central star of NGC 5189. NGC 5189 is estimated to be 546 parsecs or 1,780 light years away from Earth. Other measurements have yielded results up to 900 parsecs (~3000 light-years).

✳︎    RING NEBULA    ✳︎

The Ring Nebula (also catalogued as Messier 57, M57 or NGC 6720) is a planetary nebula in the mildly northern constellation of Lyra. Such a nebula is formed when a star, during the last stages of its evolution before becoming a white dwarf, expels a vast luminous envelope of ionized gas into the surrounding interstellar space. 

M57 is of the class of such starburst nebulae known as bipolar, whose thick equatorial rings visibly extend the structure through its main axis of symmetry. It appears to be a prolate spheroid with strong concentrations of material along its equator. From Earth, the symmetrical axis is viewed at about 30°. Overall, the observed nebulosity has been currently estimated to be expanding for approximately 1,610 ± 240 years. Structural studies find this planetary exhibits knots characterized by well developed symmetry. However, these are only silhouettes visible against the background emission of the nebula's equatorial ring. M57 may include internal N II emission lines located at the knots' tips that face the PNN; however, most of these knots are neutral and appear only in extinction lines. Their existence shows they are probably only located closer to the ionization front than those found in the Lupus planetary IC 4406. Some of the knots do exhibit well-developed tails which are often detectable in optical thickness from the visual spectrum.

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