The Witch’s Broom nebula contains the remains of a gigantic supernova explosion that blasted gas and dust into space centuries ago, and now a telescope in Chile has uncovered stunning pictures of the intergalactic wonder.
The pictures came from astronomers at the European Southern Observators, Space.com reported. The images of the Witch’s Broom nebula were taken using the La Silla Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert, and since have become a much searched-for item on the internet.
The sudden and violent eruption of the supernova in the Witch’s Broom nebula made for a fantastic picture, astronomers said. Though it is officially known as the Pencil nebula, or NGC 2736, it has adopted the name “Witch’s Broom nebula” for its resemblance to a broom.
“These glowing filaments were created by the violent death of a star that took place about 11 000 years ago,” ESO officials said in an image announcement. “The brightest part resembles a pencil; hence the name, but the whole structure looks rather more like a traditional witch’s broom.
The Witch’s Broom nebula is located roughly 800 light-years from Earth and moving at a clip of about 403,891 mph, though ESO officials aid it was originally flying throuhg space at a millions of miles an hour before slowing and cooling down. As Space.com explains, it is “the brightest part of a vast expanding shell of gas in the constellation Vela (The Sails) that is known as the Vela supernova remnant.”
The Pencil nebula was discovered in 1835 by John Herschel, and because he referred to it as “an extraordinary long narrow ray of excessively feeble light,” it is sometimes referred to as “Herschel’s Ray.”
Despite the tranquil and apparently unchanging beauty of a starry night, the Universe is far from being a quiet place. Stars are being born and dying in an endless cycle, and sometimes the death of a star can create a vista of unequalled beauty as material is blasted out into space to form strange structures in the sky.
In the photo release by ESP officials, the Witch’s Broom nebula appears as a ripple of lights interspersed with brighter clusters. The bright blue colors signify hot pockets of ionized oxygen, while the duller red areas are warm hydrogen, Space.com noted.