19 Stars In The Throes Of Death

If you’re lucky, you’ll die in your sleep. Massive stars, however, try and stave off death for trillions of years; fighting to keep burning until eventually they collapse into themselves. At the very end, they’ll violently explode into a beautifully colored gaseous display — a supernova — before silently slinking into the cosmos, unnoticed, another lonely white dwarf.


The closest of our dying friends, the Helix nebula, is a planetary nebulae — the class of stars mistakenly named after their resemblance to planets — is all that remains from a star that had as much light and heat as the Sun.

ID: 625108

At the center of this beautiful gaseous mess known as the “Butterfly Nebula” or “Bug Nebula” is a dying star with a mass five times that of the Sun.

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A dead white dwarf hides in the middle of the “Eight-Burst,” or Southern Ring Nebula, only visible from the southern hemisphere.

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Another planetary nebula, NGC 7026, located just outside of the constellation of Cygnus.

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The onion-like rings surrounding the Cat’s Eye Nebula are from 1500 year-intervals of dusty ejections from the star’s long and painful death.

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A wispy supernova known as Cassiopeia A is all that remains from the violent end to a supergiant star nearly 11,000 years ago.

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The tiny glimmering dot at the center of planetary nebula NGC 2440, or the “Bow Tie Nebula,” was once the hottest known star.

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This image of MyCn18, a young planetary nebula, is actually three separate images pulled together to highlight the erratic ejection of stellar matter from a dying star.

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A closer look at Eight-Burst.

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Cat’s Eye Nebula

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The larger of the two stars in the Eta Carinae system is known as a “supernova impostor” — a dying star that’s stopped just short of exploding into a supernova.

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A look at Cassiopeia A from afar, pulled together from NASA’s Spitzer (red), Hubble (yellow), and Chandra (green and blue) observatories.

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A white dwarf glows blue in the middle of Jupiter’s Ghost, another planetary nebula.

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A closer look at Helix nebula.

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The Thor’s Helmet nebula is home to both a lower-mass dying star in a gaseous planetary nebula and a larger, dying star on the brink of a supernova.

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The wisps of red in the Eagle nebula, where stars are usually born, are the fiery remnants of a supernova explosion from nearly 9,000 years ago.

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The blueish-grey smoke in the middle of the Crab nebula is a neutron star, the result of a massive star death in the constellation Taurus.

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A white dwarf explosion in the Milky Way left behind the Tycho supernova.

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A dying star rests at the center of the “Little Ghost” planetary nebula.

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Don’t worry, not all of the beautiful stars are dying

This incredible GIF courtesy of J-P Metsävainio shows Cepheus B, a molecular cloud, home to millions of young stars.

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