A new image released from the Hubble Space Telescope is granting viewers a stunning view that encapsulates the beauty and complexity of the famous Veil Nebula. The ghostly nebula represents the only evidence of a tumultuous supernova that marked the death of an enormous star with a mass roughly 20 times that of our Sun.
Appearing as a haunting tangle of chaotic filamentary gas, the aptly-named Veil Nebula exploded into existence roughly 8,100 years ago, and since then has expanded to stretch 110 light-years from end to end. The nebula sits on the edge of a bubble of low-density gas that was thrown out as the star died, and we are now observing the shock-wave from this supernova interacting with a wall of cooler interstellar gas, and creating light in the process.
The Veil sits roughly 2,100 light years away from Earth in the constellation Cygnus, and although the structure is nowhere near bright enough to be seen by the naked eye, the vast structure covers an area the equivalent to six full moons in our sky.
The new release is a mosaic of six images taken by Hubble capturing a two-light-year expanse of the leviathan nebula. Each color in the image corresponds to a different element – hydrogen filaments are shown in red, sulfur in green and oxygen as blue.
By comparing the new image with an older shot of the same region taken in 1997, NASA scientists hope to gain an insight into the nebula's evolution up to this point. Scroll down for a flythrough of the newly imaged section of the Veil Nebula.