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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.

1.

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.

2.

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.

3.

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

4.

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

5.

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.

6.

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

7.

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

8.

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.

9.

A closer look at Eight-Burst.

10.

Cat’s Eye Nebula

11.

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.

12.

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

13.

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

14.

A closer look at Helix nebula.

15.

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.

16.

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.

17.

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.

18.

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

19.

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

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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