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Planetary Nebulae

A bright, colorful shell of gas and dust surrounding a star in the last stages of life. A planetary nebula is created when the star puffs off its outer atmosphere. The nebula usually looks like a doughnut, sometimes with the small, hot, rapidly evolving star visible in the center. The Ring Nebula (M57) in the constellation Lyra is an example.

Radio Programs

Dynamic Butterfly Big changes for a butterfly July 18, 2023

Beginning of the End The beginning of the end for a star December 23, 2022

Cat’s Eye Nebula The beautiful and musical cat’s eye June 8, 2022

Owl Nebula Dark “eyes” for a cosmic owl March 30, 2022

Colorful Butterfly Sculpting a cosmic butterfly January 29, 2022

The Spirograph Tracing out a colorful final act January 28, 2022

Jewel Bug Sculpting a celestial bug June 8, 2021

Cat’s Eye Sculpting a stellar work of art April 10, 2021

Stingray Nebula A stingray loses its shape March 21, 2021

Alphard The “solitary” star of the water snake February 27, 2021

Sakurai’s Star A brief rebirth for a “dead” star February 24, 2021

Andromeda II The last breath of a dying star November 5, 2020

Hamal Extra weight equals a shorter life October 24, 2020

Aquarius Pouring water from a barrel October 10, 2020

Dumbbell Nebula A brilliant final act September 20, 2020

NGC 246 Sculpting a bright skull February 26, 2020

Rotten Egg Nebula The rare and beautiful death of a star February 16, 2020

Dumbbell Nebula A blaze of color for a dying star September 25, 2019

Ring Nebula Blowing bubbles around a dying star July 4, 2019

Medusa Nebula A star exhales its final breath January 27, 2019

Lambda Draconis A star puffs up for a second time January 19, 2019

Saturn Nebula A bubble that looks like a planet December 7, 2018

Helix Nebula Looking down a bright barrel November 14, 2018

Blue Snowball Lighting up a blue snowball October 26, 2017

Big Changes A Sun-like star picks up the pace June 16, 2017

Planetary Nebulae A star’s colorful demise June 15, 2017

Featured Images

james webb telescope view of a planetary nebula

Dying Beauty July 13, 2022

Spirograph Nebula, in Lepus

Emerging from the Cocoon January 28, 2022

Messier 15, a globular star cluster

Relics October 3, 2021

Hubble Space Telescope images of the Stingray Nebula taken 20 years apart

Fading Ray March 21, 2021

false-color image of Skull Nebula

Red Skull November 18, 2020

The Blue Snowball Nebula

Beautiful Ending November 5, 2020

Helix Nebula

Last Gasp October 10, 2020

ALMA view of a newly forming planetary nebula

Double Spikes March 7, 2020

ngc 246, the skull nebula

Skull Nebula February 26, 2020

Rotten Egg Nebula

Death Throes February 16, 2020

a nebula surrounds a dying star

Beautiful Demise February 8, 2020

Ring Nebula

Last Gasp July 4, 2019

ESO 577-24, a planetary nebula

Skinny Corpse January 22, 2019

Saturn Nebula

Complicated Bubble December 7, 2018

Multi-spectral view of the Helix Nebula

Looking Down a Barrel November 14, 2018

M97, the Owl Nebula, in Ursa Major

It's a Hoot March 17, 2018

IC 4406 planetary nebula

Beautiful Demise August 5, 2017

Visible and infrared image of Ring Nebula

Blowing Bubbles June 15, 2017

False-color image of the Boomerang Nebula, which is being created by a dying star

Cold Death June 7, 2017

Universal Chemistry March 6, 2017

NGC 6543, the Cat's Eye Nebula

Pure Artistry April 9, 2016

Planetary nebula known as the Eskimo Nebula

Cyclops? November 29, 2015

Hubble view of NGC 7662, a planetary nebula

Blue Snowball September 30, 2015

The Southern Owl Nebula, the last gasp of a dying star

Perfect Bubble August 5, 2015

Abell 78, a planetary nebula

Last Round July 28, 2015

The system V664 Cassiopeia is creating a planetary nebula

Bread Crumbs July 23, 2015