This Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image reveals a pair of one-half light-year long interstellar 'twisters' - eerie funnels and twisted-rope structures - in the heart of the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8) which lies 5,000 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.
This planetary nebula, Mz3, is being cast off by a star similar to our Sun. The 1000-kilometer per second speed of the expelled gas, the light-year long length of the structure, and the magnetism of the star visible at the nebula's center, all imply Mz3 is hiding a second, dimmer star that orbits close in to the bright star. A competing hypothesis holds that the central star's own spin and magnetic field are channeling the gas. (ESA, NASA's Hubble, JPL-CalTech)
Nebula N159 spans over 150 light-years and is located in the neighboring Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy, about 170,000 light years away. Visible in the above picture are bright newborn stars, dark filaments of dust, and red-glowing hydrogen gas. Torrential stellar winds from hot, newborn, massive stars within the nebula sculpt ridges, arcs, and filaments in the vast cloud, which is over 150 light-years across.
Nasa marks 50 years of space photography - in pictures
A dying star throws a cosmic tantrum in this combined image from Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer. The star's dusty outer layers are unraveling into space, glowing from the intense ultraviolet radiation being pumped out by the hot stellar core. This object, called the Helix nebula, lies 650 light years away in the constellation of Aquarius