Reflection Nebula NGC 1999. Reflection nebulae do not emit light on their own. They shine because of a light source embedded within, like a street lamp illuminates fog. The bright, young star left of centre gives NGC 1999 its brightness Picture: NASA


This is the Cone Nebula within the bright galactic star-forming region NGC 2264. (HST)

Emission Nebula NGC 6188: NGC 6188 is an emission nebula located about 4,000 light years away in the constellation Ara. The bright open cluster NGC 6193, visible to the naked eye, is responsible for a region of reflection nebulosity (clouds of interstellar dust which reflect the light of a nearby star or stars) within NGC 6188.

A Cathedral to Massive Stars, NGC 6357 is a diffuse nebula near NGC 6334 in the constellation Scorpius. The nebula contains many proto-stars shielded by dark disks of gas, and young stars wrapped in expanding "cocoons."

NGC 602 - NGC 602 is a young, bright open cluster of stars located in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way. Radiation and shock waves from the stars have pushed away much of the lighter surrounding gas and dust that compose the nebula known as N90, and this in turn has triggered new star formation in the ridges (or "elephant trunks") of the nebula:

The Butterfly Nebula (NGC 6302): The bright clusters and nebulae of planet Earth's night sky are often named for flowers or insects. Though its wingspan covers over 3 light-years, NGC 6302 is no exception. With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees C, the dying central star of this particular planetary nebula has become exceptionally hot, shining brightly in ultraviolet light but hidden from direct view by a dense torus of dust.

Helix Nebula (NGC 7293)

This is the mess that is left when a star explodes. The Crab Nebula is the result of a supernova seen in 1054 AD. In the nebula's centre is a pulsar: a neutron star as massive as the Sun but with only the size of a small town Picture: NASA

In 1787, astronomer William Herschel discovered the Eskimo Nebula, NGC 2392, which resembles a person's head surrounded by a parka hood Picture: NASA

NGC 2818 is a beautiful planetary nebula, the gaseous shroud of a dying sun-like star. It could well offer a glimpse of the future that awaits our own Sun in about five billion years Picture: NASA

Christmas Tree Cluster NGC 2264


This shows a new star being born from within an existing star cluster. The cluster is surrounded by clouds of interstellar gas and dust - called a nebula. This makes up the raw material needed to make a new star. The nebula, located 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina, contains a central cluster of huge, hot stars, called NGC 3603 (HST)

Staring across interstellar space, the Cat's Eye Nebula lies three thousand light-years from Earth. One of the most famous planetary nebulae, NGC 6543 is over half a light-year across and represents a final, brief yet glorious phase in the life of a sun-l

These glowering eyes are the swirling cores of two merging galaxies called NGC 2207 and IC 2163 in Canis Major. Billions of years from now, only one of these two galaxies will remain. Until then, they will slowly pull each other apart Picture: NASA

Thor's Helmet Nebula - Art Print by Starstuff. Thor's Helmet (also known as NGC 2359) is an emission nebula in the constellation Canis Major.

NASA's MESSENGER Satellite Captures Spectacular Color Mosaic of Mercury | NASA Goddard Space Flight Center @ Flickr 01-14-2008

Crescent Nebula - 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. It was discovered by Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel in 1792.

A huge gas and dust pillar in the Trifid Nebula, punctuated by a smaller pillar pointing up and an unusual jet pointing to the left HST)

This image from Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope shows a stellar nursery containing thousands of young stars and developing protostars near the sword of the constellation Orion. Massive stars light up the Orion nebula, the bright region near the centre of the image. To the north of the nebula is a dark filamentary cloud of cold dust and gas over five light years long, containing ruby red protostars that jewel the hilt of Orion's sword Photograph: Spitzer Space Telescope/Nasa