A powerful telescope records the fascinating consequences of the death of a giant star
Today is Halloween, and the space agencies have no plans to let us forget it. NASA’s Twitter handles have been changed.
NASA Exoplanets now Hexaplanets NASA and NASA Goddard now NASA Ghoul-Dard. The James Webb Space Telescope has been updated a portrait of the heavenly pillars of creation to give something like a hellish atmosphere. And on Monday, the European Southern Observatory ending the gruesome drama with a photograph of what he calls the ghostly remains of a giant star.
It’s a colossal 554-million-pixel image that depicts the cosmic wonder known as the Velo supernova remnant in translucent lavender, piercing pale blue, and flowing sunset colors. In the spirit of Halloween, may I remind you that a supernova remnant is not just the remains of a star’s corpse. It’s sort of the equivalent of chopping up that corpse and spreading its pieces out across space.
Shiny guts everywhere.
Technically, this scene consists of several observations made by a wide-field camera called OmegaCAM, which has a staggering capacity of 268 million pixels. Various filters on the device allow beautiful hues to shine through the image – four were used on the 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 remnants probably don’t look so iridescent. It’s just easier to sort out the different astronomical aspects of space pictures when we have different colored dividers. But what isn’t technologically advanced is how the Vela – named after a southern constellation that translates to “Sails” – looks structurally.
These almost three-dimensional bubbles of dust and gas are real. Each transparent bar is expected to be accurate. And the story of the final demise of the giant star is believed to be true.
Still, if you ask me, this ghost isn’t all that scary. It’s stunning.
It is one of the fascinating creations of our universe
About 11,000 years ago, a massive star died and unleashed a powerful explosion that sent its outermost layers crashing into the surrounding gas in the region.
This agitated gas compressed over time and created the threaded structures we see in the image. Furthermore, whatever energy was released during the event, the spots glowed brightly, casting an ethereal glow over the entire landscape.
As for the dead star itself, the root of this detonation is now a neutron star – a stellar body so unimaginably tight that one tablespoon of it would be about the weight of Mount Everest. ESO also explains that this particular neutron star is even more extreme than normal.
It is a pulsar, which means it rotates on its own axis more than 10 times every second. I don’t even want to think about how many times it has been rotated since I started writing this article.
And “at just 800 light-years from Earth,” ESO said in a press release about the image, “this dramatic supernova remnant is one of the closest known to us.” But since one light year means the distance that light can travel in one year, I wouldn’t say that it crosses our cosmic yard.
I mean, not that I’d care if we could physically see this beautiful “ghost” here on Earth – assuming, of course, that its radiation (and other dangerous material) doesn’t haunt us before we do .