These wisps of gas are all that remain visible of a Milky Way star. Many thousands of years ago that star exploded in a supernova leaving the Veil Nebula. The supernova remnant lies about 1400 light-years away and covers over five times the size of the full Moon.
Herschel's Cygnus X. The Herschel Space Observatory's infrared view of Cygnus X spans some 6x2 degrees across one of the closest, massive star forming regions in the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. In fact, the rich stellar nursery already holds the massive star cluster known as the Cygnus OB2 association. But those stars are more evident by the region cleared by their energetic winds and radiation near the bottom center of this field, and are not detected by Herschel instruments.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured this image of dwarf irregular galaxy Holmberg II. The galaxy is dominated by huge bubbles of glowing gas, which are sites of ongoing star formation. - Credit: NASA & ESA