Oct 2010 Methuselah Nebula MWP1 Credit & Copyright: Don Goldman The lovely, symmetric planetary nebula cataloged as MWP1 lies some 4,500 light-years away in the northern constellation Cygnus the Swan. One of the largest planetary nebulae known, it spans about 15 light-years. Based on its expansion rate the nebula has an age of 150,000 years, a cosmic blink of an eye in the 10 billion year life of a sun-like star. But planetary nebulae represent a very brief final phase in stellar evolution...
Hoag's Object is a mysterious ring galaxy 600 million light years away in the constellation Serpens. The outer ring is composed largely of hot blue stars, while the core is older red and yellow stars. The space in between is almost completely dark. It is thought that this galaxy formed from the collision of two galaxies billions of years ago. Visible near the top of the gap is another ring galaxy, likely much further away.
Massive star IRS 4 is beginning to spread its wings. Born about 100,000 years ago, material streaming out from this newborn star has formed the nebula dubbed Sharpless 2-106 Nebula (S106), pictured above. It lies about 2000 light-years away toward the constellation of the Swan (Cygnus).
The beautiful Trifid Nebula is a cosmic study in colorful contrasts. Also known as M20, it lies about 5,000 light-years away toward the nebula rich constellation Sagittarius. A star forming region in the plane of our galaxy, the Trifid Nebula is about 40 light-years across.