Hubble Scientists Update Famous Image of the Veil Nebula

This image, taken by NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the veil nebula again, which was depicted in the previous Hubble image release.  In this image, new processing techniques are applied, revealing delicate details of the nebula's delicate threads and filaments of ionized gas.
This image, taken by NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the veil nebula again, which was depicted in the previous Hubble image release. In this image, new processing techniques are applied, revealing delicate details of the nebula’s delicate threads and filaments of ionized gas. ESA / Hubble and NASA, Z. Levey

Scientists at the Hubble Space Telescope have released a re-created image of the beautiful Veil Nebula, showing threads of ionized gas swirling through space.

The Veil Nebula was first mimicked by Hubble, resulting in the best-known images of binoculars. This original image was shared in 2015, but since then image processing techniques have improved to the extent that researchers can use these new techniques to gain more information about an older topic. The Hubble researchers ran the original Veil Nebula image through a new set of image processing filters to show the image more detail.

“To create this color image, observations were made using five different filters by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 Instrument,” Hubble scientists wrote in a statement describing the new image. “New post-processing methods increase the emission details from doubly ionized oxygen (seen here in blues), ionized hydrogen and ionized nitrogen (seen here in reds).”

The Veil Nebula is located 2,100 light-years away in the planetarium of Cygnus (The Swan). Although the nebula is large, it is actually just a small part of a very large formation called the Cygnus loop. The Cygnus Loop is the remnant that was left on top of a star 20 times larger than the mass of our Sun, exploding outward at a dramatic phase near the end of its life. The explosion pushed the dust and gas outward in a big shock, creating a loop. The eruption occurred about 10,000 years ago, and the relic extends 60 light-years from its original eruption.

The Veil Nebula is the visible part of the Cygnus Loop, although the Hubble photo shows only a small part of it. The delicate fibers of gas seen in the Veil Nebula make it a favorite example of the beauty of space.

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