Digital artist Teun van der Zalm has produced a series of 3D computer generated animations of distant nebulae. He uses several algorithms to generate the images.
While experimenting with the noise algorithm, I find out that this was not good enough for the base of the nebula system. Therefore I had to use multiple and different noise fields to produce a more life like nebula form. It became clear through experiments that I needed a starting point to build on. First I created an primal object designed by a procedural algorithm based on the Perlin Noise. After that I transformed the object to particles and manipulate these with the noise algorithm. The result is the base nebula without all the detail. In the second phase I deform the base through maps that are based on fractal noise. The final result is an high dense and high detailed particle system. This way I can create close up, medium and total shots of the nebula.
Check out more of his videos here.