VST photographed the “ghost” of a giant star

With some imagination, it can be imagined that this photograph of the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) captures some kind of cobweb or smoky traces left by cosmic spirits. But in fact, we are facing the “ghost” of a dead star, also known as the Vela supernova remnant (The Sails).

Vela supernova remnant. Source: ESO/VPHAS+ team. Acknowledgement: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

Vela supernova remnant is located 800 light-years away in the constellation of the same name, being one of the closest similar structures to Earth. Once there was a massive star in this place. But about 11 thousand years ago, it exhausted its reserves of thermonuclear fuel, which led to the collapse of its core, accompanied by a colossal explosion.

When the star exploded, its outer layers were ejected into the surrounding gas environment. Shock waves passed through them, compressing matter and creating complex fibrous structures. The energy released at the same time warmed up the gas strands, making them shine brightly, as the photo demonstrates.

The most interesting areas of the Vela supernova remnant. Source: ESO/VPHAS+ team. Acknowledgement: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

From the dead star itself, there was a superdense ball with a diameter of only a few tens of kilometers, in which protons and electrons stuck together, forming neutrons. Such objects are called neutron stars. The neutron star in the Vela supernova remnant is located just outside the photographed VST region, to the top left of it. It rotates at a speed of about ten revolutions per second.

The image of the Vela supernova remnant is a mosaic. It is made up of images taken by the OmegaCAM camera installed on the VST. Its matrix consists of 268 million pixels and can take photos through several light filters. This particular image was obtained in four filters. The corresponding images are shown in purple, blue, green and red. The VST has a 2.6-meter main mirror, which makes it one of the world’s largest telescopes designed to obtain panoramic views of the night sky in visible rays. 

You can also read about how a Very Large telescope photographed a “Space Pinwheel”.

According to https://www.eso.org

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