NASA has released an absolutely beautiful photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of the debris of a star that exploded 8,000 years ago.
You’re looking at the Veil Nebula, a supernova remnant more than 2,000 light-years away. The image has been stitched together from six Hubble images, covering an area about two light-years across. It’s only a small fraction of the whole nebula, which has a diameter of 110 light-years.
The nebula, which was first photographed by the Hubble in 1997, was once a star 20 times more massive than the Sun. The light we can see in the image is being emitted by a fast-moving blast wave from the star’s explosion as it meets a wall of cool, denser interstellar gas that was blown into space by the star before it exploded.
The colors correspond to the former star’s gases: the red glow comes from hydrogen, blue from oxygen and green from sulfur.
To give some perspective, NASA has created a video that zooms in from a “backyard view” of the night sky to the constellation Cygnus, where the nebula lies. Take a look below.