The Hubble Space Telescope has revisited the site of a classic shot – and produced a hauntingly beautiful image of tracers of ionised gas, sculpted by a supernova explosion.
The new image (an update of a Hubble classic from 2015) uses new post-processing images to highlight different emissions.
The observations were taken by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 instrument using five different filters.
NASA used post-processing to enhance details of emissions from doubly ionised oxygen (seen here in blues), ionised hydrogen, and ionised nitrogen (seen here in reds).
The Veil Nebula lies around 2,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus (the Swan).
It is a relatively close neighbor in astronomical terms.
The image shows only a small portion of the nebula, which is a cloud of ionised gas in space.
The Veil Nebula is the visible portion of the nearby Cygnus Loop, a supernova remnant formed roughly 10,000 years ago by the death of a massive star.
That star – which was 20 times the mass of the sun – lived fast and died young, ending its life in a cataclysmic release of energy.
The shockwaves and debris from the supernova sculpted the Veil Nebula’s delicate tracery of ionised gas – creating a scene of surprising astronomical beauty.
The Veil Nebula is also featured in Hubble’s Caldwell Catalog, a collection of astronomical objects that have been imaged by Hubble and are visible to amateur astronomers in the night sky.
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The Hubble, behind iconic images such as Pillars of Creation has watched the skies for 29 years, having launched in 1990.
Named in honour of the trailblazing astronomer Edwin Hubble, the Hubble Space Telescope is a large, space-based observatory, which has revolutionised astronomy since its launch and deployment by the space shuttle Discovery in 1990.
Hubble’s capabilities have grown immensely in its over 30 years of operation.
New, cutting-edge scientific instruments have been added to the telescope over the course of five astronaut servicing missions.
By replacing and upgrading aging parts, these servicing missions have greatly extended the telescope’s lifetime.
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