February 25, 2024

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Astronomers spy star ghost and cosmic spiderweb

Astronomers spy star ghost and cosmic spiderweb

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Colorful ghostly remnants drifting into space where a massive star exploded 11,000 years ago.

The remnants of the Vela supernova, named after the constellation Vela, are all that remain after the star reaches the end of its life.

Pink and orange gas clouds define the spot 800 light-years from Earth, making it one of the closest known features. (A light year is about 6 trillion miles away.)

When the star transformed into a supernova, the shock waves moved through the surrounding layers of gas that the star released.

The energetic waves compressed the gas and created thread-like filaments resembling thin cobwebs.

In a new image of the supernova remnant Vela, taken by the European Southern Observatory’s VLT Survey Telescope in Chile, glowing filaments of gas appear to be fluorescing due to the heat from the shock waves.

The beautiful, spooky scene where the star died was appropriately released on Halloween.

Within the rest is a dense neutron star, or pulsar, that rotates rapidly and shoots out beams of light like a celestial beacon – but it lies outside the region shown in the image.

Nine full moons can fit into the detailed perspective, and the image only reflects part of the giant cloud.

The European Southern Observatory also shared detailed views of the intriguing features within the mosaic. The 12 points magnify different aspects of the bright stars and gas clouds in the region.

The image, which contains 554 million pixels, was taken by the wide-field OmegaCAM on the telescope. The 268 million-pixel camera can capture images using several different filters that allow in a variety of wavelengths of light and colors – hence the purple, blue, green and red colors in the image.

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The VLT Survey Telescope is one of the largest that scans the night sky using visible light, helping astronomers unlock the secrets of star formation and death.