Beyond the Veil

Wise_wise2011-008_500

WISE_WISE2011-008 February 25th, 2011

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

This large mosaic image from NASAs Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, features the wreckage of an exploded star, as well as other stars nearing the end of their lives. The wispy, colorful arc-shaped features are remnants of the explosion, called a supernova.

Located in the constellation Cygnus, this supernova remnant, called the Veil nebula, was created when a massive star exploded some 5,000 to 8,000 years ago, sending out shock waves that continue to interact with the gas and dust between the stars. This is among the largest of the WISE images featured so far covering an area equivalent to nearly nine by nine full moons.

The Veil nebula is the name that generally refers to the visible sections of the whole supernova remnant that was seen in its entirety in radio light and called the Cygnus Loop. The portion of the nebula to the right is known as the Witchs Broom nebula. It can be seen in this WISE image as a reddish, long, vertical wispy cloud of dust. The unrelated star 52 Cygni, seen in bright blue, appears to ride the nebula as if a witch on a broom. Other portions of the Veil Nebula have distinct catalog designations: NGC 6960, NGC 6992, NGC 6995, NGC 6974, NGC 6979, and IC 1340.

The colors of the Veil nebula are the result of shock waves from the supernova energizing the gas and the dust in the region and making it glow across the electromagnetic spectrum. Some astronomers suggest that the Veil nebula represents not one, but two supernova remnants that are interacting with each other.

There are several noteworthy bright stars in the image. The bright yellow star to the left of center is the star UX Cygni, a giant star in the late stages of its life. UX Cygni varies in brightness every 565 days as its surface puffs up and falls back down. Such stars create a large amount of dust in their outer atmospheres as the star moves toward becoming what is called a planetary nebula, a dying star surrounded by its shed layers. The dust surrounding UX Cygni gives it the yellow appearance in this WISE image. Towards the top and a little to the right of the image is a bright cyan star, AM Cygni, which is another variable star nearing the end of its life. On the right edge of the image we see an unidentified bright orange object. It is possibly a red giant star that is also in the last phase of its life, casting off its atmosphere as it becomes a planetary nebula.

Color in this WISE image represents specific wavelengths of infrared light. Blue and cyan (blue-green) represent 3.4-micron and 4.6-micron wavelengths, which is primarily from light emitted from stars. Green and red represent 12-micron and 22-micron wavelengths, which is mainly light from warm dust.

Image Source: /image/WISE/WISE2011-008

Curator: Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, Berkeley, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Pulic Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Veil Nebula Cygnus Loop Witch's Broom Nebula NGC 6960 NGC 6992 NGC 6995 NGC 6974 NGC 6979 IC 1340
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula » Type » Star Formation

Distance

Universescale1
2,000 light years
Wise_wise2011-008_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 20h 49m 60.0s
DEC = 31° 0’ 36.0”
Orientation
North is up
Field of View
3.8 x 3.8 degrees
Constellation
Cygnus

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 3.4 µm
Arrow_left_cyan WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 4.6 µm
Arrow_left_green WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 12.0 µm
Arrow_left_red WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 22.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_cyan
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Wise_wise2011-008_1280
×
ID
WISE2011-008
Subject Category
B.4.1.2.  
Subject Name
Veil Nebula, Cygnus Loop, Witch's Broom Nebula, NGC 6960, NGC 6992, NGC 6995, NGC 6974, NGC 6979, IC 1340
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Lightyears
2,000
Redshift
-
Reference Url
/image/WISE/WISE2011-008
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
WISE, WISE, WISE, WISE
Instrument
Color Assignment
Blue, Cyan, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Near-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
3400, 4600, 12000, 22000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
312.5, 31.01
Reference Dimension
5040, 5040
Reference Pixel
2814, 2574
Scale
-7.6388e-04, 7.6388e-04
Rotation
0
Coordinate System Projection:
SIN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
URL
http://wise.astro.ucla.edu
Name
Email
outreach@ssl.berkeley.edu
Telephone
Address
7 Gauss Way
City
Berkeley
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
94720
Country
USA
Rights
Pulic Domain
Publisher
Publisher ID
WISE
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/WISE/WISE2011-008
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2011-08-05
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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Universescalefull
2,000 light years