It is huge, too, and far, far away.
The entire nebula is 110 light-years across and 2,100 light years from Earth. This view by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is only a tiny portion of the whole structure – the image area is about two light years across.
The close-up shows wisps of gas, which are all that remain of what was once a star 20 times more massive than our sun. The fast-moving blast wave from the ancient explosion is plowing into a wall of cool, denser interstellar gas, emitting light. The nebula lies along the edge of a large bubble of low-density gas that was blown into space by the dying star prior to its self-detonation.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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