I used to see patterns like that when i was a kid.
I would scrunch my eyes up really tight and i could see all these kinds of universes.
NASA has released spectacular new photos of a massive star's remnants, dubbed Veil Nebula, following an ancient supernova explosion. Boffins captured the images with the Hubble Space Telescope to show off the debris of the gigantic star, which exploded roughly 8,000 years ago when the supernova that created the Veil Nebula …
I am comparing this with a picture of the whoée structure (the one shown for the present El Reg article being just a part of the whole Nebula) in a book from 195. Blue-white & black, printed on cheap post-WWII paper, the ink is oily in appearance. There is no detail in the image, the stars are fat dots ...we have come some way, indeed.
There is usually some natural colour, usually red from Hydrogen, in many nebulae, even where artificial colour assignment has not been performed. However as I understand it nebulae are just too diffuse. If you were in it or close enough for the whole thing to fit into the view of the unaided eye, there would not be enough light concentration to see it. Long camera exposures are the only way to see it because they accumulate sufficient photons over a period of time, to make a decent impression on the sensor.
"Astronomers are comparing these new images to ones taken by Hubble in 1997. This comparison allows scientists to study how the nebula has expanded since it was photographed over 18 years ago."
That's the killer sentence for me. There are a myriad of beautiful things that Hubble has shown us, but it was launched in 1990, and had it's "glasses" fitted in '93 - that's more than twenty years of breathtaking science...
The Veil is very visible in a small telescope from a dark site. A nebula filter helps. It is now an early evening object fading to the west. With a star map it is easy to locate in Cygnus next to Vega high in the south West. However it is very very faint and the light from the moon will obscure it for the next fortnight or so. You will not see colour in it but it is a real thrill to see it live!.
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