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NGC 2736, the Pencil nebula in Vela

Date created: 1995-01-20

Tags: nebula, dust, supernova

This is an outlying wisp of the Vela supernova remnant (SNR), almost the only sign of the eastern part of this vast bubble of expanding shock wave from a stellar explosion 12,000 years ago. Though clearly detected with radio and X-ray telescopes, the Vela SNR is partially hidden to optical observers. Many fine, tangled filaments are seen in the western part of the nebula, but in the east, most of it is hidden in dust. This is one of the brighter eastern fragments, and its unusual linear appearance in the telescope was remarked on by Sir John Herschel who discovered to nebula in the 1840s. This spindly shape is the source of its popular name.

Photograph made from plates taken in 1993 March, (B, G) and December (R).
Top left is NE. Image width is about 13 arc min.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory