Dark Energy Camera notices remains of an ancient supernova

Scientists have obtained an amazing image of a supernova remnant in the constellation Vela. It flared up about 11 thousand years ago. Now its remains can be properly seen with the help of an astronomical instrument called Dark Energy Camera.

The remnant of a supernova in the constellation Vela. Source: phys.org

Incredible image

This colorful web of gas filaments is the Vela Supernova Remnant, an expanding nebula of space debris that is left over from a massive star that exploded about 11,000 years ago. Located about 800 light-years away, this nebula is one of the closest supernova remnants to Earth. Although the unnamed star ended its life thousands of years ago, the shock wave that caused its death is still spreading in the interstellar medium, carrying tendrils of luminous gas with it.

The bright reds, yellows and blues in this image are achieved through the use of three Dark Energy Camera (DECam) filters, each of which captures a specific color of light. Individual images were taken in each filter and then superimposed on each other to produce this high-resolution color image, which shows complex web-like filaments writhing in an expanding cloud of gas. It is also the largest DECam image ever released publicly. It has a resolution of 1.3 gigapixels.

About the Vela Supernova 

The Vela Supernova Remnant is just the ghost of a massive star that once was. When the star exploded 11,000 years ago, its outer layers were forcefully removed and thrown into the surrounding space, causing a shock wave that can be seen today. When the shock wave spreads into the environment, the hot, energetic gas flies away from the detonation point, compressing and interacting with the interstellar medium, forming viscous blue and yellow filaments that are visible in the image.

Despite the drama of the last moments of the ancient luminary’s life, it was not completely destroyed. After the loss of the outer layers, the core of the star turned into a neutron star — a superdense ball consisting of protons and electrons that collided, forming neutrons. Thus, Vela Pulsar was formed, having the mass of the Sun, but squeezed into a sphere with a diameter of several tens of kilometers.

Located in the lower left part of this image, Vela Pulsar is a relatively dim star that cannot be distinguished from its thousands of celestial neighbors. Still recovering from the explosion, he began to rotate rapidly around his own axis and create a powerful magnetic field. These properties lead to the fact that double beams of radiation penetrate the sky 11 times per second, like successive blips of a rotating lighthouse bulb.

Features of modern cameras

This one image, taken with the Dark Energy Camera, has 570 megapixels, so with multiple exposures superimposed on each other, the amount of detail that can be captured is really amazing. 

Thanks to the large mosaic of CCDs of the Dark Energy Camera, astronomers can create mesmerizing images of faint astronomical objects, such as the Vela Supernova Remnant, which open up a boundless starscape for exploration.

According to phys.org

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