Detail of the Veil Nebula
This image shows a beautiful portion of the Veil Nebula - the shattered remains of a supernova that exploded some 5000 to 10 000 years ago. The intertwined rope-like filaments of gas result from the enormous amounts of energy released as the fast-moving debris from the explosion ploughs into its surroundings and creates shock fronts.
The image displays two characteristic features: sharp filaments and diffuse emission. These correspond to two different viewing geometries: sharp filaments correspond to an edge-on view of a shock front, and diffuse emission corresponds to a face-on view of it.
This image is a small portion of the Veil Nebula located in the eastern part of the large structure (to the left in the overview image; see related images). The entire nebula spans about 3 degrees, corresponding to about 6 full Moons.
The image was taken with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) on board the Hubble Space Telescope. The colour is produced by composite of three different images taken at three different wavelengths using narrow filters centred at 502 nm ([O III]), 656 nm (Hα) and 673 nm ([S II]). The different colours indicate emission from the different kinds of atoms excited by the shock: blue shows oxygen, green shows sulphur, and red shows hydrogen.