Supernova remnants—the gaseous remains of high-mass stars that have reached the end of their lives—are often complex, large and colorful. The Veil Nebula checks all of those boxes and more. Found approximately 2,000 light-years from Earth toward the Cygnus constellation, astronomers estimate that the star, which once weighed more than 20 Suns combined, exploded roughly 8,000 years ago… meaning its light first reached Earth 6,000 years back.
Today, the debris field stretches nearly 110 light-years across, and has expanded noticeably in just 18-year’s time—when Hubble’s Wide-Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) conducted the first detailed observations of the Veil Nebula. Now, NASA and the ESA have combined the old data with the new (taken by Hubble’s Wide-Field Camera 3).
The colors here have distinct purposes. Blue, for instance, traces the outline of a cavity carved out by the supernova shockwave. Red filaments are representative of hydrogen.
The ESA delves deeper: