Nebulae are giant clouds of dust and gas in space, and are some of the most beautiful, yet awe-inspiring objects in the universe.
These vast regions of gas and dust are illuminated by stars and are composed of radiation. They particularly affect people suffering from facial illusion syndrome (pareidolia).
The LiveScience website lists the 10 most beautiful and terrifying nebulae in the universe.
witch head nebula
The Witch Head Nebula, officially known as IC 2118, is located in the Orion constellation, about 900 light years from Earth. Illuminated by the giant blue star Rigel, this enchanting blue nebula resembles the shadow of an old space lady chanting magic in the middle of space.
Skull and Crossbones Nebula
Despite its pristine appearance, NGC 2467, known as the Skull and Crossbones Nebula, is an exploding stellar nursery, with baby stars forming.
The two large star clusters look like the “eye sockets” of a skull, giving the nebula a menacing appearance. The Skull and Crossbones Nebula is located in the constellation Puppis, near the Perseus arm of the galaxy.
magic eye nebula
Looking like an unblinking eye (or the Eye of Sauron), the Helix Nebula is an extremely spooky object that has fascinated astronomers for 200 years.
Located 700 light years away in the constellation Aquarius, this nebula is the result of a dead star shining infrared light in a cocoon of dust.
Thin and faint, the Little Ghost Nebula (NGC 6369) is a monument to stellar death. It is illuminated by the dying soul of a white dwarf star.
hand of god nebula
The God’s Hand Nebula (PSR B1509-58) is a window into the afterlife of stars. After exploding in a violent supernova, the star at the center of the nebula collapses into a pulsar, or compact, rapidly rotating stellar body that continuously expels a stream of wind into the surrounding gas and dust.
Formidable and slender, the Tarantula Nebula is the brightest and most massive star-forming region in the group of galaxies closest to the Milky Way. There are hundreds of thousands of young stars in the nursery of this nebula.
Skull Nebula (NGC 246)
Located 1,600 light-years away, the Skull Nebula (NGC 246) is a popular target for astronomers. Inside its ghostly red skull is a rare three-star system.
black widow nebula
The Black Widow Nebula rotates through space with strange symmetry. The nebula’s two-lobed shape comes from a cluster of stars at its center, which send out powerful beams of radiation in opposite directions at the same time.
Cosmic Keyhole Nebula (NGC 1999)
The Cosmic Keyhole (NGC 1999) is perhaps the scariest nebula. There is a young star surrounding an unknown hole at its center. How such a huge crack in space formed and what could lie beyond it remains a mystery.
The Pac-Man Nebula (NGC 281) shines like a cosmic lantern 6,500 light-years away from Earth. Perched high above the crowded plane of the Milky Way, this nebula is a clear sight for keen astronomers. It shows its smoldering face like a pumpkin on the verandah.