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Part of the Vela supernova remnant

Date created: 1978-08-25

Tags: supernova remnant, Vela, PSR J0835-4510, supernova, nebula, shell

About 120 centuries ago an inconspicuous star in what is now the constellation of Vela brightened by about 100 million times to rival the Moon as the brightest object in the night sky. This photograph shows a portion of the north-western quadrant of an expanding, faint nebulous shell, which now surrounds the site of the explosion. Near the centre of the nebula, which is some distance off the the eastern (left) side of the photograph, is the Vela pulsar (PSR J0835–4510), a rapidly-spinning neutron star only a few kilometres in diameter, the remnant of the star that exploded. This tiny, massive object spins about 11 times a second and until recently was among the faintest stars ever studied at optical wavelengths, a far cry from its brief glory as one of the brightest stars ever seen.

Photograph made from plates taken in April 1976.
Image width is about 2 degrees.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory