Looking more like a wisp of stellar smoke than anything else, these shockwaves are anything but gentle. The twisted mass is part of the Veil Nebula, the remnants of a star that now tears through space.

The Veil Nebula was, ten thousand years ago, a star. Brighter and bigger than our Sun, it burned out, collapsed and then exploded. At that point, it ejected its outer layers at speeds of over 370,000 mph, creating massive shockwaves as the matter tore through surrounding gases in interstellar space. This image shows just a small snapshot of those effects, known as the south-eastern knot. In fact the entire nebula measures 50 light years in radius, and is located almost 1500 light years away. [ESA]


Image by NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage