DR 6 nebula ("Galactic Ghoul"). This is a star-forming region in the constellation Cygnus, with the central region (the "nose") about 3.5 light years across. The nebula's nickname comes from its resemblance to a ghoulish face, with cavities in the cloud looking rather like two eyes and a devouring mouth. (Credit: S. Carey (Caltech), JPL-Caltech, NASA) Mona Evans, "Cosmic Ghosts Ghouls and Vampires" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art181890.asp
What powers the Heart Nebula? The large emission nebula dubbed IC 1805 looks, in whole, like a human heart. The nebula glows brightly in red light emitted by its most prominent element: hydrogen. The red glow and the larger shape are all created by a small group of stars near the nebula's center. A close up spanning about 30 light years contains many of these stars is shown above in a recent image taken by the Canada France Hawaii Telescope. http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap041208.html
Little Ghost Nebula. (NGC 6369) (Credit: Hubble Heritage Team, NASA) A planetary nebula in the constellation Ophiucus over 2000 light years away. William Herschel discovered it in the18th century. It's round like a planet, but was actually formed from material ejected by a dying star. What remains of the star is the white dwarf near the center. The nebula's main ring structure is about a light-year across. Mona Evans, “Nebulae” http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art43407.asp
Witch's Broom Nebula. It's part of the Veil Nebula (NGC 6960), the remains of a supernova that exploded more than 15,000 years ago. The bright star (52 Cygnus) near the center of the image isn't associated with the supernova. (Credit: T. A. Rector / University of Alaska Anchorage and WIYN /NOAO/AURA/NSF) Mona Evans, "Cosmic Halloween Tour" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art52161.asp
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.
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.
A grinning one-eyed skull? Actually it's NGC 5189, a complex planetary nebula around a dying star. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/S.Carey (Caltech)) Mona Evans, "Cosmic Halloween Tour" http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art52161.asp