A photogenic group of nebulae can be found in Chamaeleon, a constellation visible predominantly in skies south of the Earth's equator. Towards Chamaeleon, dark molecular clouds and bright planetary nebula NGC 3195 can be found. Visible near the center of the above photograph is a reflection nebula surrounding a young bright star. On the lower right, a dark molecular cloud blocks the light from stars behind it.
The Stingray Nebula. Stingray's emerging bubbles and rings of shocked and ionized gas. The gas is energized by the hot central star as it nears the end of its life, evolving toward a final white dwarf phase. The image also shows a companion star (at about 10 o'clock) within the nebula. Astronomers suspect that such companions account for the complex shapes and rings of this and many other planetary nebulae. This cosmic infant is about 130 times the size of our own solar system and growing.
The Red Spider Planetary Nebula shows the complex structure that can result when a normal star becomes a white dwarf star. Officially tagged NGC 6537, this two-lobed symmetric nebula houses one of the hottest white dwarfs ever observed, probably as part of binary star system. Internal winds emanating from the central stars, shown in the central inset, have been measured in over 300 k/second. These hot winds expand the nebula, flow along the nebula's walls, and cause gas and dust to collide.
The Veil Nebula in Cygnus. It is a supernova remnant, the remains of a giant star that exploded thousands of years ago. One day this will be the fate of Deneb, the bright star in the swan's tail. (Credit: T. A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage and WIYN/NOAO/AURA/NSF) ©Mona Evans, "Cygnus the Swan" www.bellaonline.c...