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10 Cosmic Fireworks to Light Up Your Holiday

10 Cosmic Fireworks to Light Up Your Holiday

If you need even more fireworks this holiday weekend, all you have to do is look up. The cosmos is a gorgeous gallery of twinkling and exploded stars. I’ve collected just a few of these incredible light shows below.

The big and beautiful Fireworks Galaxy shines bright 10 million light-years away:

n6946_blockFireworks Galaxy NGC 6946 (Image Credit: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, U. Arizona)

Human-made fireworks explode during Australia Day celebrations. On the right, lightning flashes and in the center, Comet McNaught streaks down the sky:

mcnaught3_kemppainen_1744Comet Between Fireworks and Lightning (Image Credit: Antti Kemppainen)

The supernova remnant GK Persei—known as the Firework Nebula—is rapidly expanding into a brilliant show of gas and dust 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Perseus:

The-Firework-NebulaThe Firework Nebula (Image Credit: Tiina Liimets et al.)

160 years ago, the supermassive star Eta Carinae underwent an outburst that nearly destroyed it. It survives today as its lobes rush across space at 1 million kilometers per hour:

1024px-EtaCarinaeEtaCarinae (Image Credit: Nathan Smith, NASA)

20,000 light-years away, the cluster of stars known as NGC 3603 twinkles gloriously in the Carina spiral arm of the Milky Way:

NGC_3603bNGC 3603b (Image Credit: NASA, ESA, R. O’Connell, F. Paresce, E. Young)

At the core of NGC 3603, a composite image from the Hubble Space Telescope was taken to document the movement of the stars at the center:

NGC3603_coreNGC 3603 core (Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Wolfgang Brandner, Boyke Rochau, Andrea Stolte)

Deep in the Large Magellenic Cloud, NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory detected the remains of a supernova, shown below in a composite image. The small bluish “bullet” in the bottom right of the image is moving at 5 million miles per hour:

A supernova remnant located in the Large Magellenic CloudN49 (Image Credit: NASA/CXC/Penn State/S.Park et al, STScI/UIUC/Y.H.Chu & R.Williams)

NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory found this supernova remnant, designated SN 1572, hiding in the x-ray spectrum. In visible light, we see only darkness. In x-ray light, we see this:

A supernova remnant in the Milky Way about 13,000 light years   from Earth.Tycho (X-ray only) (Image Credit: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/K.Eriksen et al.)

To see the beauty of the Cat’s Eye Nebula, the Hubble Space Telescope (visible light) and the Chandra Observatory (x-ray light) teamed up to capture this incredibly complex nebula in the constellation Draco:

NGC6543X-ray/optical composite image of NGC 6543, the Cat’s Eye Nebula (Image Credit: NASA/ESA)

Herbig-Haro objects are odd, short-lived stellar phenomena where the violence of recently birthed stars collides with nearby gas and dust. Here we see a composite image of Herbig-Haro object 46 made with radio observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array and visible light observations from ESO’s New Technology Telescope:

Unprecedented_image_of_Herbig-Haro_object_HH_46_47Herbig-Haro object HH 46 (Image Credit: ESO/ALMA/H. Arce)

Like the Cat’s Eye Nebula, NGC 6826 is a planetary nebula—a shell of ionized gas sloughed off from a late-life red giant star. Below, the Hubble Space Telescope captured this amazing image, a cosmic firework if there ever was one:

NGC_6826HSTFullNGC 6826 (Image Credit: HST/NASA/ESA)

Kyle Hill is the Science Editor of Nerdist Industries. Follow the continued geekery on Twitter @Sci_Phile.

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