They Came From Outer Space

By Phil Plait | October 31, 2012 6:00 am

Space is scary.

Supernovae explode, flooding their neighborhood with deadly high-energy light and blasting superheated matter outward at a large fraction of the speed of light. Black holes gobble down everything around them, and they’re sloppy eaters, spewing out deadly radiation and belching vast winds of gas. Galaxies collide, asteroids impact, entire worlds are chewed to dust by their violent stars.

And since ’tis the season, here’s a gallery of spooky pictures of nature: moaning nebulae, screaming stars, ghastly volcanoes, and more. Y’know, we humans love to make up stories about vampires and goblins to scare ourselves, knowing they’re just stories… but the Universe is real, and really, really terrifying. Mwuhahahahahaha!

Happy Halloween from the BA Blog!


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Comments (19)

  1. Neat gallery there. Cheers BA. :-)

    The knee of Orion is marked by the bright star Rigel, and just off to the side is the large glowing Witch Head nebula, ..

    Incidentally, could be wrong but I’m fairly sure that Rigel doesn’t merely mark the location of the Witch’s Head / Running Ghost nebula it actually illuminates it causing it to be visible as well.


    “Of the 10 million stars within 1,000 light years of earth, Rigel ranks as number 1, radiating more light than any other. Each minute it [Rigel] casts off more light than the Sun generates in a month.”
    – Ken Croswell, “The Blue Witch” p. 22 in ‘Sky &Telescope’ magazine May-June 2007.

  2. Georg

    the legenday nature of the cluster I’d call this “head of the gorgo”.

  3. alfaniner

    Bad piggy from Angry Birds.

  4. Keith Bowden

    While I basically see all the images described here (some more clearly than others), no matter how hard I try I simply cannot see any faces on the moon.

  5. For the Witch Head nebula, I actually see a sort of spectral alien (of the “little grey” variety) shrugging its shoulders, surrounded by a spooky cloud of vapor.

  6. Chris A.

    [pedant]Strictly speaking, Rigel indicates either “lower leg” or “foot” (from the Arabic “rijl”). If it were “knee” it would be “Rukbah” (cf. Delta Cas, the knee of Queen Cassiopeia). That’s why Orion is usually depicted with his left knee raised, placing his left foot in the location of Rigel.[/pedant]

  7. Old Rockin' Dave

    Why does it screams with Mr. Bill’s mouth?

  8. Mark Swope

    Hey… Wait a minute… That running ghost photo looks a lot like …. Oh…

  9. sevenof9fl

    Screaming Monkey mos def creepy but I think the Volcano wins the day – thnx for the include! Nice gallery!

  10. RCSI

    The ‘eye’ in a tree is definitely disturbing.

  11. Pete Jackson

    Great gallery! Thanks.

  12. CosmicJC

    Hm… no matter how much I look at it, the woman in the 12th pic appears to be wearing an expression of innocent delight. Perhaps I’m looking at it all wrong.

  13. Fiona of Sydney, Australia

    Stunning photos.

    Happy Halloween everyone.

  14. Nigel Depledge

    @ Chris A (6) –

    Ah, pedantry. It is the end for which the internet was invented.

  15. Nigel Depledge

    Re NGC2467, the BA said:

    I have to note: this object is in the constellation of Puppis, the stern of a cosmic ship. So this really is a stern glare!

    Well, technically, Puppis is the poop deck of the ship, but that’s close enough.

  16. @RCSI

    The ‘eye’ in a tree is definitely disturbing.

    Winter is coming.

  17. chuck14901

    what really scares me is the “eye of God” in a pair of photos taken by the Hubble telescope, one taken July 2011. Such a phenomena is rare, but to be so perfect in shape and design, it forces the question “Is it real, or a hoax?” If it were a hoax, then someone should have been able to falsify the records from the Hubble telescope. Most may want this to be the case, because if it is real, the chance that it is nothing but gas is too great to be imagined, because of the perfect shape and form of the image.

    Gas clouds don’t usually form in unnatural shapes like an elliptical with sharp ends like an eye partially covered by the eyelid. Not only that, but a perfect ring and a perfect circle in the center where the pupil would be? Seriously, is that possible in nature? If it is real, who is looking out? And how would their intentions affect us? I finally understand why some fail to see the obvious, because the truth here might be too fearsome to think about. Maybe I’m just reading into it, but it’s like walking through your house and stumbling on a hole in the wall, but the hole has an eye in it. When you look at the eye, it doesn’t blink. Now think about that. Are we wild animals observed by a higher life form?

  18. mike burkhart

    It looks like the opening to a Halloween movie, I watch Halloweens 123 on Halloween (the orginals not the stupid remakes) you might mention the Horse Head nebula as looking kind of like a space monster to kids. To me it look like the black knight from a chess set. Another thing that scares people is not so friendly Aliens, they just like to do all kinds of nasty things to people. By the way according to the 1980s movie Lifeforce vampires are aliens.


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