Image Credit: XMM-Newton/ESA

Supernova remnants are all that remain once massive stars burn out. From the colossal explosion and the release of energy that overtakes the star at the end of its life-span, to the symmetry of the nebula formed from the gas spewed outwards as the star's core collapses — all the way to the heavy elements that can only be created in the wake of the event, including the elements that are central to our existence — most of them are utterly bizarre and/or beautiful. This one certainly belongs in the bizarre camp.

This image of the supernova remnant G272.2-03.2 (catchy name, right?) was taken in 2001 by the XMM-Newton Observatory. The star that used to exist in the center of the remnant is located between 6,000 and 16,000 light-years from Earth and was approximately 8-10 times more massive than our sun, but the remnant itself is believed to be about 5,000 years old. Though, determining an accurate number is difficult since there are a few contradictory observations that call the age of the remnant into question. 

Instead of only being a snapshot of one image, this is a composite that consists of images taken by various tools belonging to the observatory's telescope. The stars visible in the background were photographed using an optical telescope. The greenish/orange color of the remnant itself is emitted from super-heated gases from the star's explosion, but was photographed in x-ray. Likely, in the heart of the remnant lies a dense neutron star or a stellarmass black hole that is being obscured from view by the material left over from the explosion.

See a larger image here.


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