Uncovering the Veil Nebula

Also known as the Cygnus Loop, the Veil Nebula (NGC6960, 6992, 6995) is located in the constellation of Cygnus, about 1,500 light-years away from Earth.

Veil Nebula_HST

This is the Veil Nebula, the remains of a supernova that exploded some 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. The colour in the image above represents emission from different kinds of atoms excited by the shock from the explosion: blue shows oxygen, green shows sulphur, and red shows hydrogen. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration.

Nothing is permanent…

Not even the stars in the sky…

When a star dies, it can die softly or violently. How a star will die depends on how massive it is. When a star significantly heavier than our Sun dies, it collapses and blows itself apart. This violent explosion is called a supernova. A supernova releases so much energy that it can outshine a whole galaxy of stars put together.

The image above shows what is left of a supernova – a supernova remnant known as the Veil Nebula. A supernova explosion is a brief event, but its remnant can remain visible long after the initial explosion fades away.

This series of images taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals only a small portion of the Veil Nebula, where its entire shell spans up to 3 degrees. Visible in this stunning close-ups are delicate, wispy structure and intertwined rope-like filaments of gas; the result of the blast from the exploding star that creates the Veil.

Now, let pause and imagine: the wisps of gas that you are seeing was once upon a time a star…

And thanks to these explosions, we owe our existence to them…

Supernovae are quite rare. It is estimated that only a few stars per century in our galaxy will die this way. But they are important. The material that made up you and me are forged in these violent explosions billions of years ago. The green in the grass and the red of our blood are indeed the colours of stardust.

Supernova explosions are responsible for making all chemical elements heavier than iron in the Universe, such as copper, mercury, gold, lead, iodine etc.. The expanding shells of supernova remnants were mixed with other material in the Milky Way and will become the raw material for new generations of stars and planets.


~ by thChieh on April 23, 2008.

One Response to “Uncovering the Veil Nebula”

  1. […] the Supernova Cosmology Project and the High-Z Supernova Search, who were making a survey of supernovae in very distant galaxies in order to measure the expansion rate of the universe with time, found […]

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