When these incredible images are first seen, the nature of their true identity is far from what is on one’s mind. While these 10 bizarre objects from space might look fluffy or mossy, others seem to be drops of liquid or tiny organisms observed through a microscope. They are in fact Supernova remnants – the seemingly frozen explosions of dying stars caught by NASA‘s Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Supernova explosions forge the heavy elements that can provide the raw material from which future generations of stars and planets will form. Studying how supernova remnants expand into the galaxy and interact with other material provides critical clues into our own origins.

A supernova remnant in the Milky Way about 13,000 light years from Earth.

Tycho. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/K.Eriksen et al.; Optical: DSS. March 24, 2011.

The remains of a stellar explosion that appear in Earth's sky in 1604.

Kepler. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/NCSU/M.Burkey et al; Optical: DSS. March 18, 2013.

A supernova remnant about 7,000 light years from Earth.

SN 1006. Credit: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/G.Cassam-Chenai, J.Hughes et al. July 01, 2008.

A supernova remnant about 7,000 light years from Earth.

Puppis A. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/IAFE/G.Dubner et al & ESA/XMM-Newton. September 10, 2014.

The remains of a supernova explosion that destroyed a white dwarf star.

DEM L71. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/J.Hughes et al; Optical: Rutgers Fabry-Perot. March 12, 2003.

The remains of a massive star that exploded, perhaps being witnessed by Chinese astronomers in 386 A.D.

G11.2-0.3. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Eureka Scientific/M.Roberts et al.; Radio: NRAO/AUI/NSF. January 30, 2007.

The most recent supernova in our Galaxy has been discovered by tracking the rapid expansion of its remains.

G1.9. Credit: X-ray (NASA/CXC/NCSU/S.Reynolds et al.); Radio (NSF/NRAO/VLA/Cambridge/D.Green et al.). May 14, 2008.

A supernova remnant in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a galaxy about 190,000 light years from Earth.

SNR 0103-72.6. Credit: NASA/CXC/PSU/S.Park et al. May 26, 2003.

A supernova remnant located in the Large Magellanic Cloud about 160,000 light years from Earth.

N132D. Credit: NASA/CXC/NCSU/K.J.Borkowski et al. March 12, 2008.

A supernova remnant located about 10,000 light years from Earth

Cassiopeia A. Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO. November 15, 2013.

Launched on July 23, 1999, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is a telescope specially designed to detect X-ray emission from very hot regions of the Universe such as exploded stars, clusters of galaxies, and matter around black holes. Because X-rays are absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, Chandra must orbit above it, up to an altitude of 139,000 km (86,500 mi) in space. The Smithsonian’s Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, MA, hosts the Chandra X-ray Center which operates the satellite, processes the data, and distributes it to scientists around the world for analysis. The Center maintains an extensive public website about the science results and an education program.

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