A series of photographs of the remains of the Veil Nebula, a star that exploded approximately 8,000 years ago, have been unveiled by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, according to a NASA press release.

The Veil Nebula is 2,100 light-years away from Earth, in the constellation called Cygnus, or the Swan. Its name is due to its filamentary structures. William Herschel was the first astronomer to observe it in 1785. The exploded star, that covers a huge area of 110 light-years wide, is hard to observe.

According to NASA, “the supernova that created the Veil Nebula would have been briefly visible to our very distant ancestors about 8,000 years ago as a bright “new star” in the northern sky.”

This Hubble image shows a small section of the Veil Nebula. This section of the outer shell of the famous supernova remnant is in a region known as the Witch’s Broom Nebula (NGC 6960). Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team

The images that the Hubble Space Telescope captured are only from a small section. NASA scientists combined six different pictures to create the image. Researchers are comparing this to a series of pictures taken in 1997 by the Hubble to draw an expansion line of the Nebula, according to the Huffington Post.

“The Veil Nebula, is one of the best-known supernova remnants. This close-up look unveils wisps of gas, which are all that remain of what was once a star 20 times more massive than our sun. In the image, red corresponds to the glow of hydrogen; green from sulfur; and blue from oxygen,” NASA press release says.

Hubble Telescope Top Discoveries

The Hubble Space Telescope, a project that involves NASA and the ESA, was first launched in 1990. Using instruments to observe ultraviolet, visible and infrared light, captures high-quality photos in space.

According to Space.com, these are some of the highlighted discoveries made by the Hubble:

  • Dark matter: By analyzing the distortions caused by dark matter’s gravity on light from distant galaxies, Hubble helped construct the largest scale 3-D maps scientists have of where dark matter is distributed in the universe.
  • Pluto: Hubble discovered two new moons of Pluto, dubbed Nix and Hydra, and recently mapped seasonal changes to its surface.
  • Gamma-ray bursts: These are the most powerful explosions known in the universe, typically cutting loose more energy in seconds than our sun will release in its entire 10 billion year lifetime.
  • Age of the Universe: By determining the rate at which the universe is expanding, Hubble may have helped solve the mystery of how old the universe is.


Source: NASA