Whoa, what happened here? Five to ten thousand years ago, a massive star exploded, sending out shock-waves in all directions, creating the Cygnus Loop. The blast shell is currently expanding at 370,000 mph and emits energy across the electromagnetic spectrum: radio, visible, x-ray, and ultra-violet. Some of the ejecta material, however, is travelling faster: the violet streak of light near the top of the image marks the path of a knot of gases moving at nearly 3 million mph. This image is a combination of three photographs: one capturing green light (hydrogen atoms), one, blue light (oxygen atoms); and the last, red light (sulfur atoms).
The visible part of the Swan Loop is called the Veil Nebula, and was discovered by William Herschel in 1784.
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Photo: Cygnus Loop Supernova Blast Wave(1993); Hubble Space Telescope. Author: NASA…
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