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Image shows spectacular effects of the death of a great star


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The effects of the explosive death of a large star are seen in an image released on Monday by the European Southern Observatory, showing immense filaments of glowing gas that was thrown into space during the supernova.

Before exploding at the end of its life cycle, the star is believed to have had a mass at least eight times that of our Sun. It was located in our galaxy, the Milky Way, about 800 light-years from Earth, in the direction of the constellation Vela. A light year is the distance light travels in one year: 9.5 trillion kilometers.

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The haunting image shows clouds of gas that look like pink and orange tendrils in the filters used by astronomers, covering an area approximately 600 times the size of our solar system.

“The filament structure is the gas that was ejected by the supernova explosion, which created this nebula. We see the inner material of a star as it expands in space. Where there are denser areas, some of the supernova material collides with the gas. surrounding it and creates part of the filamentous structure,” said Bruno Leibundgut, an astronomer affiliated with the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

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The image shows supernova remnants about 11,000 years after the explosion, Leibundgut said.

“Most of the glowing material is due to the hydrogen atoms being excited. The beauty of these images is that we can directly see the material that was inside the star,” Leibundgut added.

“Material that has accumulated over many millions of years is now exposed and will cool over millions of years to form new stars. These supernovae produce many elements — calcium or iron — that we carry in our bodies. This is a spectacular part of the way.” in the evolution of stars.”

The star itself was reduced after a supernova to an incredibly dense spinning object called a pulsar. A pulsar is a type of neutron star — one of the most compact celestial objects known. This one rotates ten times per second.

The image represents a mosaic of observations made with a wide-field camera called OmegaCAM at the VLT research telescope housed at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. Data for the image was collected from 2013 to 2016, ESO said.

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