Powerful Telescope Captures Breathtaking Aftermath of Giant Star’s Death

Powerful Telescope Captures Breathtaking Aftermath of Giant Star's Death
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It’s Halloween today and space organizations don’t mind letting us forget about it. NASA Twitter handles have been changed.

NASA Exoplanet is now NASA Hexoplanets and NASA Goddard now NASA Ghoul-dard. James Webb Space Telescope updated portrait of the heavenly Pillars of Creation To give something like hell. And on Monday, the European Southern Observatory rolling the spooky drama with a photograph of what he calls the ghostly remains of a giant star.

It’s a massive 554-million-pixel image that paints a cosmic marvel called the Vela supernova remnant in translucent lavenders, piercing pale blues, and stringy sunset colors. In the spirit of Halloween, I may remind you that the remnant of a supernova is no longer just the corpse of a star. It’s kind of tantamount to chopping up that corpse and scattering its pieces across space.

Glittering guts everywhere.

Full size version of ESO’s Vela Remnant image.

The ESO/VPHAS+ team. Acknowledgments: Cambridge Astronomical Research Unit.

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

To be clear, this means that the image has been colored. In space, the remnant probably doesn’t look like much of a rainbow. When we have some color separators, it’s easier to sort out the different astronomical aspects of space photos. What hasn’t been technologically improved, however, is Vela’s structural appearance—named after a southern constellation meaning “Sails.”

8 images show the progress of how the team deciphered what the Vela relic looks like.  Some are black and white.

In this image progression, you can see how the scientists used OmegaCAM to image the Vela Relic. You can also see how the image looks before coloring.

ESO/M Kornmesser, VPHAS+ team. Acknowledgments: Cambridge Astronomical Research Unit.

These almost 3D bubbles of dust and gas are real. Each transparent line is expected to be correct. And the story this tells about the eventual demise of the giant star is probably true.

If you ask me though, this ghost isn’t all that scary. Stunning.

This is one of the mind-blowing creations of our universe.

About 11,000 years ago, a massive star died and unleashed a powerful explosion that caused its outermost layers to release a shock wave into the surrounding gas in the region.

This irritating gas compressed over time, forming the gear structures we see in the picture. Also, whatever energy was released during the event, it forced the dots to shine brightly, creating an ethereal glow over the entire landscape.

As for the dead star itself that was the root of this explosion, it’s now a neutron star — a stellar body. unimaginably intense one tablespoon would equal something like the weight of Mount Everest. ESO also explains that this particular neutron star is even more extreme than average.

The 12 boxes feature snippets from the Vela relic's greatest moments.

Here are some highlights of ESO’s Vela image.

The ESO/VPHAS+ team. Acknowledgments: Cambridge Astronomical Research Unit.

It’s a pulsar, meaning it spins on its axis more than 10 times per second. I don’t even want to think about how many times it has come back since I started writing this article.

And “only 800 light-years from Earth,” ESO said in a press release for the image, “this dramatic supernova remnant is one of the closest known to us.” But since a light-year refers to the distance light can travel in a year, I can hardly say it has passed through our cosmic backyard.

I mean, I wouldn’t care if we could physically see this beautiful “ghost” from here on Earth — assuming, of course, that its radiation (and other hazardous materials) didn’t bother us for a second.

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