Spectacular telescope image shows ‘ghostly’ aftermath of giant star’s death

Spectacular telescope image shows 'ghostly' aftermath of giant star's death
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Space organizations did not allow us to forget that Monday was Halloween.

NASA’s Exoplanets Twitter account became NASA Hexoplanets and NASA Goddard was nasa ghoul dart. The James Webb Space Telescope updated its celestial portrait of the Pillars of Creation to emit something of a hellish vibe. And on Monday, the European Southern Observatory completed creepy drama with a photo of what he calls the ghostly remains of a gigantic star.

It’s a massive 554 million-pixel image that paints a cosmic wonder, called the Vela supernova remnant, in translucent lavenders, piercing pale blues, and stringy twilight colors. In the spirit of Halloween, I’d like to remind you that a supernova remnant isn’t just the leftover corpse of a star. It’s kind of the equivalent of cutting up that corpse and scattering its pieces across space.

Shiny guts everywhere.

A full-size version of ESO’s Vela Remnant image.

ESO/VPHAS+ team. Recognition: Cambridge Astronomical Studies Unit.

Technically, this scene is made up of several observations produced by a wide-field camera called OmegaCAM, which has a staggering 268 million pixels. Various filters on the device are what allow the beautiful tones of the image to shine through – four were used in Vela specifically to create a color scheme of magenta, blue, green and red.

To be clear, this means that the image is colored. In space, the remnant probably doesn’t look all that rainbow-like. It’s just easier to analyze different astronomical aspects of space images when we have some colorful dividers. But what isn’t technologically improved is the structural appearance of Vela, named for a southern constellation that translates to “The Sails.”

8 images show the progression of how the team decoded what the remnant of Vela looks like.  Some are in black and white.

In this progression of images, you can see how scientists used OmegaCAM to image the Vela Remnant. You can also see how the image looks before you color it.

ESO/M Kornmesser, VPHAS+ team. Recognition: Cambridge Astronomical Studies Unit.

Those nearly three-dimensional bubbles of dust and gas are real. Every diaphanous streak is expected to be accurate. And the story this tells about the giant star’s ultimate demise is presumably true.

However, if you ask me, this ghost is not that scary. Is awesome.

It is one of the amazing creations of our universe.

About 11,000 years ago, a massive star died and unleashed a powerful explosion that caused its outer layers to generate shock waves in the surrounding gas in the region.

That disturbed gas, over time, compressed and created the threaded structures that we see in the image. Additionally, any energy that was released during the event forced the points to glow brightly, casting an ethereal glow over the entire landscape.

As for the dead star itself, the root of this detonation, it is now a neutron star, a stellar body. so unimaginably dense that a tablespoon would be equivalent to something like the weight of Mount Everest. ESO also explains that this particular neutron star turns out to be even more extreme than average.

12 paintings highlight fragments of the most important moments of the remnant of Vela.

Some highlights of ESO’s Vela image.

ESO/VPHAS+ team. Recognition: Cambridge Astronomical Studies Unit.

It is a pulsar, which means that it rotates on its own axis more than 10 times per second. I don’t even want to think about how many times it has turned since I started writing this article.

And “just 800 light-years distant from Earth,” ESO said in a press release about the image, “this dramatic supernova remnant is one of the closest we know of.” But because a light-year denotes the distance light can travel in the span of a year, you wouldn’t exactly say it’s coming through our cosmic backyard.

I mean, not that I care if we could physically see this beautiful “ghost” from here on Earth; of course, assuming the radiation from it (and other hazardous materials) don’t come after us before we can see it.

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