These glowing bands of dust are all that is left of a star that underwent a cataclysmic explosion about eleven thousand years ago. Known as the Vela Supernova Remnant, this nebula is – you guessed it – a supernova remnant and it’s located about 800 light-years away in the constellation of the Sails, better known as Vela. The entire remnant (not pictured) is spherical.
The Vela Supernova Remnant plays an important role in astronomical history. In 1968, astronomers at the University of Sydney observed a neutron star at the remnant’s center, making this the first direct observational evidence obtained that confirmed neutron stars could be formed from supernovae. The neutron star at the center of this supernova rotates at a rate exceeding 10 rotations per second.
Fun fact: When this star went supernovae, it would have been visible from Earth around the start of written history.