That's the Calabash Nebula, also known as "The Rotten Egg Nebula," so named because it would smell like one (if you managed to get a whiff before dying in the horrible vacuum of space, that is). It's just chock-full of sulfur. However, that's another example of jaded astronomers focusing on the novelty of the wrong thing. See, we'd call it the Bullet Smashing Apple Nebula, on account of how it looks surprisingly like this:
Smithsonian American Art Museum
And that's not a coincidence. When you look at pictures of Calabash, what you're actually seeing is the death of a nebula via gunshot wound. The "gun," in this case, was fired from inside of the nebula itself, when the central star started dying and violently threw off material in opposite directions. The yellow parts of the image are those space bullets, flying away at a million miles per hour.
Don't worry, though; space isn't all terror and violence. All things happen for a reason, because ...
This is the Helix Nebula, often referred to as the eye of God. It was produced by a sunlike star dying over a span of thousands of years. Think we're stretching to see the "eye" there? OK, then try this:
MY. GAZE. DEVOURS.
The above photograph of the Engraved Hourglass Nebula makes us wonder two things:
One, is there a little space-hobbit out there trudging dutifully across the Cosmo-Shire to destroy this damn thing?
And two, who the hell is in charge of naming stuff at NASA? Maybe they had to go with "Engraved Hourglass" because something more accurate like "The All-Seeing Eye of Terror" would have caused a global panic, resulting in panicky idiots like us pitchforking the Hubble Telescope to stop this ocular witchcraft.
Special thanks to Kier Harris for suggesting several of these.
Jacopo della Quercia is on Twitter. Follow him!
For more insane photos that are too crazy to be real (but totally are), check out 6 Images of Abandoned Weaponry You Won't Believe Are Real and 17 More Images You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped.
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