Nature is quite the artist. Many of the most beautiful sights in the world are natural rather than man-made. And when it comes to space, nature can be even more beautiful as NASA once again proved with its Hubble space telescope. The immensely powerful telescope recently captured some shockingly beautiful pictures of the remains of a long dead star in the Veil Nebula. The photos have been amalgamated above.
The stunning, intricate, and brightly colored tendrils pictured above are made of plasma that was created when a star exploded some 8,000 years ago. However beautiful the ancient star was in real life, it’s unlikely that it could have topped the images from the nebula.
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.
The tendrils are the result of a stellar explosion called a supernova. Often thought of as the “death” of massive stars, these explosions are among the most powerful forces in the universe, capable of expelling as much energy in a year or less as a star generated in the rest of its “living” existence.
The tendrils are found in the Veil Nebula, a massive supernova remnant found some 2,100 light-years away. The nebula itself measures 110 light-years in length and is one of the most well-known astronomical objects in the sky. The supernova is a part of the constellation Cygnus.
The beautiful photos of the star have examined only a tiny fraction of the nebula. While the nebula measures more than 100 light years in width, the six amassed images taken by the Hubble captured only about 2 light-years worth. Still, the photos are among the most detailed photos ever taken of a nebula.
The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the premier astronomical exploration tools available. The telescope first came into operation in 1990 and has made more that 1.2 million observations so far. The data resulting from Hubble data has been used in nearly 13,000 scientific research papers, making the telescope one of the most productive scientific tools ever created. It rotates around the world at about 17,000 miles per hour.
Supernovas result when a star burns through too much of its fuel and can no longer sustain itself. Basically, the gravity at the center of the star becomes too strong, and there’s no longer enough outward pressure from the burning fuel to sustain the mass. When the core collapses, the star explodes.The powerful explosions of dying stars can scatter matter massive distances.
Often, the result of the exploding stars are nebulas, which are clouds of interstellar hydrogen, dust, helium, and other remnants left behind by dead stars. These huge clouds can measure hundreds of light years across, but are generally not very dense. Still, as the photos above prove, nebulas can be very beautiful. Not all nebulas are caused by supernovas but can be caused by other events.
It is believed that most atoms besides hydrogen and helium actually came from exploding stars billions of years ago, so it’s possible that we are all, in fact, nebula and star dust. Supernovas likely play a vital role in the nature and makeup of the universe because they spread atoms across space.