NGC-6960

Edward Emerson Barnard, Nebulae (NGC 6960, NGC 6992), a supernova remnant in the constellation Cygnus. Large meteor trail included. Photographed with the Bruce 10-inch photographic telescope of Yerkes Observatory, 16-07-1909.

Hubble Zooms in on Shrapnel from an Exploded Star

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has unveiled in stunning detail a small section of the expanding remains of a massive star that exploded about 8,000 years ago.

Called the Veil Nebula, the debris is one of the best-known supernova remnants, deriving its name from its delicate, draped filamentary structures. The entire nebula is 110 light-years across, covering six full moons on the sky as seen from Earth, and resides about 2,100 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Along the Western Veil

Delicate in appearance, these filaments of shocked, glowing gas, draped in planet Earth’s sky toward the constellation of Cygnus, make up the western part of the Veil Nebula. The Veil Nebula itself is a large supernova remnant, an expanding cloud born of the death explosion of a massive star. Light from the original supernova explosion likely reached Earth over 5,000 years ago. Blasted out in the cataclysmic event, the interstellar shock wave plows through space sweeping up and exciting interstellar material. The glowing filaments are really more like long ripples in a sheet seen almost edge on, remarkably well separated into atomic hydrogen (red) and oxygen (blue-green) gas. Also known as the Cygnus Loop, the Veil Nebula now spans nearly 3 degrees or about 6 times the diameter of the full Moon. While that translates to over 70 light-years at its estimated distance of 1,500 light-years, this wide image of the western portion spans about half that distance. Brighter parts of the western Veil are recognized as separate nebulae, including The Witch’s Broom (NGC 6960) along the top of this view and Pickering’s Triangle (NGC 6979) below and right of center.

Image processing: Oliver Czernetz - Data: Digitized Sky Survey (POSS-II)