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Today we share an image of the aftermath of a star’s explosion, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has re-released the image, which depicts just a small part of the Veil Nebula. The ‘nuclear furnace’ at the centre of what used to be a star made it shine brighter than our own sun 10,000 years ago, the ESA said. When those reactions faltered as fuel was exhausted, the star collapsed and went kaboom.
The explosion is estimated to have happened some 5,000–10,000 years ago, the ESA said.
During the star’s final detonation, it flung its outer layers into space at more than 600,000 km/h. What we see now is these layers colliding with the surrounding gases of interstellar space – “a twisted mass of shock waves that appears six times larger than the full moon in the sky,” the ESA said.
“The energy imparted in the collision heated the gas to millions of degrees, causing it to emit light,” the ESA explained. “The wavelength of this light depends upon the atoms present in the excited gas. In this image, blue shows oxygen, green shows sulphur, and red shows hydrogen.”
This image was taken with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, and was first published in July 2007. Here it is in its entirety: