Categories: Hubblesupernova

Hubble’s Photo of the Cygnus Loop is, Of Course, Incredible

If you’re a Star Trek fan, you may think the above image portrays the “Nexus” from the movie Star Trek: Generations. In the film, the Nexus was a ribbon-like extra-dimensional realm that exists outside of normal space-time.

But this is actually a real image from the venerable Hubble Space Telescope, of the Cygnus Loop. This stunning picture from space shows just a small portion of a blast wave left over from a supernova that took place, from our vantage point, in the northern constellation Cygnus the Swan.  

The original supernova explosion blasted apart a dying star about 2,600 light-years away. This star was approximately 20 times more massive than our Sun, and the blast likely occurred between 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. Since then, the remnant has expanded 60 light-years from its center.

While appearing as a delicate and light veil draped across the sky, this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope actually depicts a small section of the Cygnus supernova blast wave, located around 2600 light-years away. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, W. Blair.

The shockwave marks the outer edge of the supernova remnant and continues to expand at incredible speeds, around 350 kilometers per second. The interaction of the ejected material and the low-density interstellar material swept up by the shockwave forms the distinctive veil-like structure seen in this image.

In Star Trek lore, if you were inside the Nexus, you existed in a perfect, idealized world. Staring at an incredible image like this makes you consider that something like that might just be possible.

Here’s another, previous Hubble image of the Cygnus Loop supernova remnant from 1991, and below that is an image of the famous Veil Nebula, which is inside the larger Cygnus supernova remnant.

This 1991 image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captures a small section of the Cygnus Loop supernova remnant. Credit: NASA/Hubble
Veil Nebula. Image credit: ESA/Hubble Space Telescope

Source: ESA

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004. She is the author of a new book on the Apollo program, "Eight Years to the Moon," which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible. Her first book, "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond.

Recent Posts

The UK is Considering Nuclear Propulsion in Space

The UK Space Agency recently contracted with the British Rolls Royce company to research nuclear…

18 hours ago

James Webb Unfolds Sunshield

It’s almost time. Soon the James Webb Space Telescope will be on its way to…

20 hours ago

Thanks to Perseverance, We’re Finally Going to Hear What Mars Sounds Like

Many consider the various rovers we’ve sent to Mars as the next best thing to…

1 day ago

NASA Has Given Up on Trying to Deploy InSight’s Mole

It's always a sad day when a mission comes to an end. And it's even…

2 days ago

Mars is Still an Active World. Here’s a Landslide in Nili Fossae

A image released by the MRO mission shows a landslide near the location where the…

2 days ago

Astronomers see a Hint of the Gravitational Wave Background to the Universe

Astronomers have found evidence of faint gravitational waves using an array of pulsars in our…

2 days ago