32 Of The Most Astounding Images Recovered From Deep Space

Published March 7, 2012
Updated November 9, 2023

A stunning peak at the most beautiful and astounding images of space in this All That Is Interesting photograph gallery.

Andromeda Galaxy
Messier 31 is a large galaxy in Andromeda which is the most massive in the local group of galaxies that includes our Milky Way.

This image is from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer.
NASA/JPL/California Institute of Technology

Bubbly Nebula
This 'bubbly nebula' is NGC 1501, a complex planetary nebula located in the large but faint constellation of Camelopardalis (The Giraffe), was first discovered by William Herschel in 1787. It is just under 5000 light-years away from us. Marc Canale/ESA/Hubble/NASA

Calabash Nebula
The Calabash Nebula, pictured here, is also known as the Rotten Egg Nebula because it contains a lot of sulphur, an element that, when combined with other elements, smells like a rotten egg.

The image depicts the star going through a rapid transformation from a red giant to a planetary nebula, during which it blows its outer layers of gas and dust out into the surrounding space, ejecting material at a speed of a million kilometers an hour.
Judy Schmidt/ESA/Hubble & NASA

Cloud Boomerang Into Milky Way
An immense cloud of hydrogen gas outside our Milky Way galaxy, plummeting toward our galaxy at nearly 700,000 miles per hour.

The cloud was discovered in the early 1960s by doctoral astronomy student Gail Smith, who detected the radio waves emitted by its hydrogen.
NASA Goddard

Cone Nebula
Resembling a nightmarish beast rearing its head from a crimson sea, this monstrous object is actually a pillar of gas and dust. Called the Cone Nebula because of its conical shape in ground-based images, this giant pillar resides in a turbulent star-forming region.

This image shows the upper 2.5 light-years of the nebula, a height that equals 23 million round trips to the moon. The entire nebula is 7 light years in length. The Cone Nebula resides 2,500 light-years away in the constellation Monoceros.
NASA/H. Ford/G. Illingworth/M. Clampin/G. Hartig/ACS Science Team/ESA

Crab Nebula
A composite view of the Crab nebula, an iconic supernova remnant in our Milky Way galaxy that was observed by Chinese astronomers in the year 1054.ESA/Herschel/PACS/MESS Key Programme Supernova Remnant Team/NASA/ESA/Allison Loll/Jeff Hester

Cygnus Loop Nebula
The Cygnus Loop Nebula lies about 1,500 light-years away, and is a supernova remnant, left over from a massive stellar explosion that occurred 5,000-8,000 years ago.

It extends more than three times the size of the full moon in the night sky, and is tucked next to one of the 'swan's wings' in the constellation of Cygnus.

Elephant Trunk Nebula
When radiation and winds from massive young stars impact clouds of cool gas, they can trigger new generations of stars to form. This is what may be happening in this object known as the Elephant Trunk Nebula (or its official name of IC 1396A).NASA/CXC/PSU/Getman et al/DSS/JPL-Caltech

Fireworks Galaxy
NGC 6946 is a medium-sized, face-on spiral galaxy about 22 million light years away from Earth. In the past century, eight supernovas have been observed to explode in the arms of this galaxy, giving credence to its nickname 'Fireworks Galaxy.'NASA/CXC/MSSL/R.Soria et al/AURA/Gemini OBs

Galaxy Collision
Arp 148 is the staggering aftermath of an encounter between two galaxies, resulting in a ring-shaped galaxy and a long-tailed companion. The collision between the two parent galaxies produced a shockwave effect that first drew matter into the center and then caused it to propagate outwards in a ring.

The elongated companion perpendicular to the ring suggests that Arp 148 is a unique snapshot of an ongoing collision.
NASA/ESA/the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration/A. Evans/NRAO

Galaxy Pictor A
Radio Galaxy Pictor A.NASA/CXC/Univ. of Hertfordshire/M. Hardcastle et al/CSIRO/ATNF/ATCA

Galaxy Sparkling
This galaxy is officially named Messier 51 (M51) or NGC 5194, but often goes by its nickname of the “Whirlpool Galaxy.” Like the Milky Way, the Whirlpool is a spiral galaxy with spectacular arms of stars and dust. M51 is located 30 million light years from Earth, and its face-on orientation to Earth gives us a perspective that we can never get of our own spiral galactic home.NASA/CXC/Wesleyan Univ./R.Kilgard, et al/STScI

Globula Star Cluster
Globular clusters offer some of the most spectacular sights in the night sky. These ornate spheres contain hundreds of thousands of stars, and reside in the outskirts of galaxies. The Milky Way contains over 150 such clusters — and the one shown in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, named NGC 362, is one of the more unusual ones. NASA Goddard

Helix Nebula Infrared
Dust makes this cosmic eye look red. This eerie Spitzer Space Telescope image shows infrared radiation from the well-studied Helix Nebula (NGC 7293), which is a mere 700 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius. The two light-year diameter shroud of dust and gas around a central white dwarf has long been considered an excellent example of a planetary nebula, representing the final stages in the evolution of a sun-like star. NASA, JPL-Caltech, Kate Su, et al

Hen2427 And Nebula M167
Here we see the spectacular cosmic pairing of the star Hen 2-427 — more commonly known as WR 124 — and the nebula M1-67 which surrounds it. Both objects are found in the constellation of Sagittarius and lie 15,000 light-years away.ESA/Hubble & NASA/Judy Schmidt

Horsehead Nebula
Backlit wisps along the Horsehead Nebula upper ridge are being illuminated by Sigma Orionis, a young five-star system just off the top of this image from the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA/ESA/STScI

This striking view of Jupiter's Great Red Spot and turbulent southern hemisphere was captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft as it performed a close pass of the gas giant planet in February 2019, as the spacecraft performed its 17th science pass of Jupiter.

The image represents a distance of 16,700 miles to 59,300 miles above Jupiter's cloud tops from the spacecraft.

Jupiters South Pole
This enhanced color view of Jupiter's south pole was created using data from the JunoCam instrument on NASA's Juno spacecraft. Oval storms dot the cloudscape.NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gabriel Fiset

Large Magellanic Cloud
At a distance of just 160 000 light-years, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is one of the Milky Way’s closest companions. It is also home to one of the largest and most intense regions of active star formation known to exist anywhere in our galactic neighbourhood — the Tarantula Nebula. ESA/Hubble & NASA/Judy Schmidt

M31 Galaxy
In this 2013 image of the Andromeda galaxy, also known as M31, from the Herschel space observatory, cool lanes of forming stars are revealed in the finest detail yet.

M31 is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way at a distance of 2.5 million light-years.
ESA/Herschel/PACS & SPIRE Consortium, O. Krause, HSC, H. Linz

Mercury Solar Transit
Mercury is seen as a tiny silhouette while it transits across the face of the sun during the 'Mercury Transit' in November 2019 as viewed from Salt Lake City, Utah. The next transit won't happen again until 2032. Joel Kowsky/NASA

Milky Way
Our galaxy, the Milky Way. Based on the immense gravity that would be required to explain the movement of stars and the energy expelled, the astronomers conclude that the center of the Milky Way is a supermassive black hole.NASA

Nasty Star
Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered surprising new clues about a hefty, rapidly aging star whose behavior has never been seen before in our Milky Way galaxy. In fact, the star is so weird that astronomers have nicknamed it “Nasty 1,” a play on its catalog name of NaSt1.NASA/Hubble

This picture of Neptune was produced from the last whole planet images taken through the green and orange filters on NASA's Voyager 2 narrow angle camera. The images were taken at a range of 4.4 million miles from the planet.NASA/JPL

Ngc 1999
In December 1999, the Hubble Heritage Project snapped this picture of NGC 1999, a reflection nebula in the constellation Orion. A reflection nebula shines only because the light from an embedded source illuminates its dust; the nebula does not emit any visible light of its own.

The nebula is famous in astronomical history because the first Herbig-Haro object was discovered immediately adjacent to it (outside the Hubble image). Herbig-Haro objects are now known to be jets of gas ejected from very young stars.
NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI)

Ngc4485 Galaxy
The irregular galaxy NGC 4485 shows all the signs of having been involved in a hit-and-run accident with a bypassing galaxy. Rather than destroying the galaxy, the chance encounter is spawning a new generation of stars, and presumably planets.NASA, ESA/T. Roberts/D. Calzetti/LEGUS Team/R. Tully/R. Chandar

Rosette Star Formation
This composite image shows the Rosette star formation region, located about 5,000 light years from Earth. NASA/CXC/SAO/J. Wang et al/DSS & NOAO/AURA/NSF/KPNO 0.9-m/T. Rector et al

Spiral Galaxy M51
M51 is a spiral galaxy, about 30 million light years away, that is in the process of merging with a smaller galaxy seen to its upper left.NASA/CXC/SAO/Detlef Hartmann/JPL-Caltech

Spiral Galaxy Ngc772
This galaxy is a spiral galaxy named NGC 772 which shares some similarities with our home galaxy, the Milky Way: Each boasts a few satellite galaxies, small galaxies that closely orbit and are gravitationally bound to their parent galaxies. One of NGC 772’s spiral arms has also been distorted and disrupted by one of these satellites, leaving it elongated and asymmetrical. Yet, the two galaxies are still very different.ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Seth et al.

Supermassive Black Hole In Hercules A Galaxy
Spectacular jets powered by the gravitational energy of a super massive black hole in the core of the elliptical galaxy Hercules A illustrate the combined imaging power of two of astronomy's cutting-edge tools, the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3, and the recently upgraded Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope in New Mexico.NASA Goddard

Supernova 1987a
This image shows the entire region around supernova 1987A, including a shock wave of material unleashed by the stellar blast slamming into regions along the ring's inner regions, heating them up, and causing them to glow.

The ring, about a light-year across, was probably shed by the star about 20,000 years before it exploded.
NASA/ESA, K. France/University of Colorado/P. Challis and R. Kirshner/Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Venus And Spica Star
On Dec. 5, 2015, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Kimiya Yui captured this image of Venus from the International Space Station. At the time of this photograph, Japan's Akatsuki spacecraft, a Venus climate orbiter, was nearing the planet, and it is Akatsuki is the first spacecraft to explore Venus since the European Space Agency’s Venus Express expired in 2014.NASA/JAXA

Space is a wondrous place beyond our realm of understanding, and we've only begun to explore it even though it's been six decades since Russia launched the first artificial satellite — called Sputnik — into space.

Fortunately since then, we've had countless advances in space technology which have allowed us to explore our galaxy and beyond in ways we could have never imagined. The result of these deep-space explorations have conjured up incredible images from space, from the rocky uninhabited surface of Mars to the clashing of galaxies light-years away.

Discovering Amazing Objects In Space

Among the space objects captured by the satellites launched from Earth are planetary nebulas, glowing clouds made out of dust or gas and, surprisingly, do not involve any planets as the name suggests. The misnomer term was coined by William Herschel, who thought the newly discovered gassy objects resembled Uranus, which is essentially a giant ball of gas itself.

The first planetary nebula discovered was the Dumbbell Nebula, M27, by Charles Messier in 1764. Roughly 10,000 of these glowing objects are estimated to exist in the Milky Way alone, and only about 1,500 of them have been discovered thus far.

In this gallery of space pictures, you will find different kinds of nebulas — some more gaseous than others.

Natasha Ishak
A former staff writer for All That's Interesting, Natasha Ishak holds a Master's in journalism from Emerson College and her work has appeared in VICE, Insider, Vox, and Harvard's Nieman Lab.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.