Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2012 November 26
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Wisps of the Veil Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Joaquin Ferreiros

Explanation: Wisps like this are all that remain visible of a Milky Way star. About 9,000 years ago that star exploded in a supernova leaving the Veil Nebula, also known as the Cygnus Loop. At the time, the expanding cloud was likely as bright as a crescent Moon, remaining visible for weeks to people living at the dawn of recorded history. Today, the resulting supernova remnant has faded and is now visible only through a small telescope directed toward the constellation of the Swan (Cygnus). The remaining Veil Nebula is physically huge, however, and even though it lies about 1,400 light-years distant, it covers over five times the size of the full Moon. In images like this of the complete Veil Nebula, studious readers should be able to identify several of the individual filaments. A bright wisp at the right is known as the Witch's Broom Nebula.

Tomorrow's picture: Bright Jupiter

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