These beautiful, shimmering tendrils of plasma are all that remain of an ancient massive star that, approximately 8,000 years ago, died and exploded as a supernova. This zoomed-in section of the Veil Nebula has just been released by the Hubble Space Telescope, revealing the intricate beauty that's left in the wake of one of the most violent events in the universe.
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The Veil Nebula is one of the best known supernova remnants in the sky, featuring vast wispy structures of hot plasma some 110 light-years across. The nebula is located around 2,100 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan.
Vast as it may be, this new observation features 6 images stitched together as a mosaic, only spanning 2 light-years, providing a very detailed look at the innermost detail of this fascinating object.
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The Veil's brightest components are caused by the ancient supernova's shock wave that is traveling through interstellar space, blasting into the edge of a cavity, or bubble, etched out into a region of cool interstellar gas. Viewed edge-on, the crumpled structure of the expanding bubble's leading edge glows in a range of vivid colors, heated by the interaction between the shock waves and cavity gas.