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IC 1340, part of the Cygnus loop

Tags: nebula, supernova, Cygnus

The Milky Way galaxy contains many traces of ancient supernova explosions, not least of which are the heavy metals we find in the earth's crust. There are few directly visible supernova remnants but the Veil nebula in Cygnus is one of the finest. This image shows a small portion of the eastern side of what is a large, almost spherical glowing shell of gas, about three degrees across, the expanding remains of a star that exploded between 5,000 and 8,000 years ago. The nebula (and thus its precursor star) is about 1900 light years distant and about 100 light years across. It is the result of the shockwave from the explosion exciting the tenuous interstellar medium and making it glow.

Photograph made from plates taken in October, 1991.
Top left is NE. Image width is about 31 arc min.

Credit: David Malin

© 1991-2002, David Malin/IAC/RGO (or David Malin/Instituto de Astrofisca des Canarias/Royal Greenwich Observatory)