It’s Halloween, and the space organizations don’t intend to make us forget it. NASA Twitter handles have been changed.
NASA exoplanets are now NASA Hexoplanets and NASA Goddard is now NASA Ghoul. The James Webb Space Telescope has updated its portrait of the celestial pillars of creation disengage something from a hellish vibe. And on Monday, the European Southern Observatory completes the chilling drama with a photo of what it calls the ghostly remains of a gigantic star.
It’s a massive 554 million pixel image that paints a cosmic wonder, called the Vela supernova remnant, in translucent lavenders, piercing pale blues and stringy sunset colors. In the spirit of Halloween, may I remind you that a supernova remnant is not just the corpse of a star. It’s sort of the equivalent of cutting up that corpse and spreading its pieces out in space.
Glistening guts everywhere.
Technically, this scene is made up of several observations produced by a wide-field camera dubbed OmegaCAM, which has a staggering capacity of 268 million pixels. Various on-device filters allow the beautiful hues of the image to shine through – four were used on Vela specifically to create a color scheme of magenta, blue, green and red.
To be clear, this means that the image is colorized. In space, the rest probably doesn’t quite look like a rainbow. It is simply easier to analyze the different astronomical aspects of space images when we have colored separators. But what isn’t technologically improved is how Vela – named after a southern constellation that translates to “The Sails” – structurally looks like.
These almost 3D bubbles of dust and gas are real. Each diaphanous sequence must be precise. And the story it tells of the giant star’s ultimate demise is presumably true.
Nevertheless, if you ask me, this ghost is not so scary. That’s wonderful.
This is one of the mind-blowing creations of our universe
About 11,000 years ago, a massive star died and triggered a powerful explosion that sent a shock wave from its outermost layers into the surrounding gas in the region.
This disturbed gas, over time, compressed and created the threaded structures we see in the image. Additionally, regardless of the energy released during the event, the dots were forced to shine brightly, casting an ethereal glow across the entire landscape.
As for the dead star itself, the root of this detonation, it is now a neutron star – a stellar body so incredibly dense that a tablespoon of it would equal something like the weight of Mt. Everest. ESO also explains that this particular neutron star happens to be even more extreme than average.
It’s a pulsar, which means it spins more than 10 times per second. I don’t even want to think about how many times it has been shot since I started writing this article.
And “just 800 light-years from Earth,” ESO said in a press release about the image, “this spectacular supernova remnant is one of the closest we know of.” But because a light year indicates how far light can travel in a year, I wouldn’t quite say it crosses our cosmic backyard.
I mean, it doesn’t matter how much I care if we could physically see this magnificent “ghost” from here on Earth – of course, assuming its radiation (and other hazardous material) doesn’t haunt us until we get a glimpse .
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