Scientists release image of gas cloud from Star’s Explosion
The European Southern Observatory released an image on Monday of colorful gas clouds created long ago by the explosion of a massive star.
The clouds are located in our own Milky Way galaxy about 800 light-years from Earth. A light year is the distance that light travels in a year, 9.5 trillion kilometers. Scientists estimate that the star was at least eight times the mass of the sun.
The area of the colorful cloud is about 600 times the size of our own solar system.
The picture shows the pink and orange filament structures of the cloud. Filaments are like very thin strings like: silk or the strings of a spider’s web.
The cloud was created by the explosion of the star, called a supernova.
A large star collapses in a supernova core or center. The pressure and temperature in the core become so high that atoms of heavier elements are formed and huge amounts of energy are released in a massive explosion. A supernova can also produce very heavy elements, such as iron, gold or uranium.
Bruno Leibundgut is an astronomer at the European Southern Observatory (ESO). He explained that denser regions of material from the supernova hit the surrounding gas, creating some of the filaments seen in the image.
He said, “Most of the material that shines is… by means of hydrogen atoms that are excited. The beauty of such images is that we can immediately see what material was in a star.”
The image shows the cloud, called a nebula, about 11,000 years after the explosion.
What remains of the supernova is a small, very dense to spin object called a pulsar. The pulsar rotates about 10 times per second.
The cloud image is a combination of many images taken by the VLT Survey telescope in Chile. The telescope uses a camera with filters to capture light of different colors. The data for the image was collected from 2013 to 2016, according to the ESO.
I’m Andrew Smith.
Will Dunham reported this story to Reuters. Andrew Smith adapted it for VOA Learning English.
Words in this story
filament -n. a material that appears long and very thin like a hair
silk -n. a material that comes from silkworms and is made into cloth
core -n. the central part of something
by means of -preparation. as a result of
to spin –v. go around
filter -n. a device that admits one substance but does not
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