This exceptional quality image shows the remains of a star that exploded thousands of years ago

About 11,000 years ago, a huge star exploded and created a nebula, known as a Vela supernova. Located about 800 light-years from Earth in the constellation Vela, this nebula is one of the closest supernova remnants to Earth.

Its structure spans almost 100 light years and is one of the most spectacular to observe. The proof is this superb photo by astrophotographer Vikas Chander of the Deep Sky Observatory in Chile and published on March 12, 2024.

The biggest photo ever published!

It's easily one of the most impressive images of stellar remnants in terms of definition: 1.3 gigapixels! That is, more than a billion pixels, and it is the largest image ever published by this telescope! We owe this finesse and technological prowess to the large Dark Energy Field Camera (DECam), capable of capturing the light of galaxies located in the depths of space, up to 8 billion light years away.

Manufactured by the Department of Energy, the device equips the Blanco Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile and is operated by the National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab). We owe him the publication of this photo and its explanation.

The mirror weighs 15 tons!

From its vantage point in the Chilean Andes, the telescope receives light that has traveled across space. After entering the telescope's optical tube, the light is then reflected off a 4 meter wide mirror. It is a piece of solid glass covered with aluminum, the weight of which is about… 15 tons!

The light is then guided to the back of the DECam, passing through a corrective lens almost a meter in diameter before hitting an array of 62 CCD sensors for guidance and focusing

One picture taken with DECam has 570 megapixels. Except that with multiple exposures stacked on top of each other, the amount of detail increases, and thus the definition of the image. So we get an image of 1.3 billion pixels.

Remnants of the shock wave

The reds, yellows and blues in this image were achieved using three DECam filters, each collecting a specific color of light. Separate images were taken in each filter and then stacked on top of each other to produce this high-resolution color image that highlights the nebula's complex blue and yellow filaments.

“When the star exploded 11,000 years ago, its outer layers were violently torn off and thrown into the surrounding area, causing a shock wave that is still visible today,” the astronomers explained in a press release. “As the shock wave propagates through the surrounding region, hot, energetic gas moves away from the point of detonation, compressing and interacting with the interstellar medium to produce the fibrous blue and yellow filaments visible in the image. »

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