Daily Telescope: The brilliant remains of a star that died 10,000 years ago

Behold: The Veil Nebula.
Enlarge / Behold: The Veil Nebula.


Welcome to the Daily Telescope. There is a little too much darkness in this world and not enough light; a little too much pseudoscience and not enough science. We’ll let other publications offer you a daily horoscope. At Ars Technica, we’re going to take a different route, finding inspiration from very real images of a universe that is filled with stars and wonder.

Good morning. It is November 2, and today’s photo showcases the Veil Nebula, a cloud of heated and ionized gas about 2,400 light-years away from Earth.

The principal feature within this nebula is what is called the “Cygnus Loop,” which sounds like something Han Solo would make in less than 12 parsecs, but is actually the remnant of an extremely large star. This star, about 20 times larger than the Sun, exploded some 10,000 years ago. It must have been quite a shock to our ancestors in the times before the pyramids were built, as the supernova would have abruptly appeared and been brighter than Venus in the night sky.

The Veil Nebula has been expanding ever since. Today it is much faded but still brilliant with the right telescope and imaging techniques.

For this photograph, Ars reader Zach S. used an Astro-Tech AT80ED Refractor telescope and composed it from four different panels. Each panel is made from a 60×180-second stack. He captured the images from rural Washington state. I think it’s beautiful.

Source: Zach S.

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