Top 5 Unusual Nebulae

Hello, Earthlings!

Nebulae are like the universe’s abstract art gallery. Since Hubble deployed in the 1990s, we have discovered hundreds of these hidden gems. While these give us insight to stellar evolution and the birth of stars, these also puzzle us by their complexity, chemistry, and beauty. It was a challenge to narrow down this list to 5, but here we go!

#5) Egg Nebula

The Egg Nebula is 3,000 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. Astronomers are still trying to figure out the “beams” and if these are merely an illusion from the surrounding dust.

Egg Nebula! Image credit: Hubble/NASA/STScI/JPL

Egg Nebula! Image credit: Hubble/NASA/STScI/JPL

#4) U Camelopardalis

U-Cam is 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Camelopardalis. This carbon-rich star gives us a clue as to how our Sun will “end” in about 5 billion years from now. It is essentially a red giant sloughing off its outer core layers.

U Camelopardalis Nebula! Image credit: Hubble/NASA/STScI/JPL

U Camelopardalis Nebula! Image credit: Hubble/NASA/STScI/JPL

#3) Calabash Nebula

Calabash is located 5,000 light-years away within the M46 open cluster in the Puppis constellation. This “broken egg” looking nebula actually has sulfur and hydrogen-sulfide chemicals, so it is considered the “smelliest” nebula!

Calabash Nebula! Image credit: Hubble/NASA/STScI/JPL

Calabash Nebula! Image credit: Hubble/NASA/STScI/JPL

#2) Barnard 68

No, this is NOT a black hole! This is an extremely cold and dense nebula that is actually absorbing the light emitted from the starlight behind it. It is 500 light-years away in the Ophiuchus constellation.

The mysterious Barnard 68 Nebula! Image credit: Hubble/NASA/STScI/JPL

The mysterious Barnard 68 Nebula! Image credit: Hubble/NASA/STScI/JPL

#1) Red Square

Red Square nebula, formally named the MWC-922, is located 5,000 light-years away in the Serpens constellation. The box-like shape is still being researched, but astronomers guess that what we are seeing is rather an optical illusion from the dust circulation “pinching” the corners.

Red Square Nebula! Image credit: Hubble/NASA/STScI/JPL

Red Square Nebula! Image credit: Hubble/NASA/STScI/JPL

Thank you for reading, I’m off to go find some more awesome astronomy to share! Keep looking up!

Caitlin Ahrens