Click on the image for full resolution (14.3 MB)
The oddly shaped Pencil Nebula aka NGC 2736 is pictured in this image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. This nebula is a small part of the Vela Supernova Remnant, a huge remnant left over after a supernova explosion that took place about 11 000 years ago. The image was produced by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory. The Pencil Nebula measures about 0.75 light-years across and is moving through the interstellar medium at about 650 000 kilometers per hour. Remarkably, even at its distance of approximately 800 light-years from Earth, this means that it will noticeably change its position relative to the background stars within a human lifetime. Even after 11 000 years the supernova explosion is still changing the face of the night sky.
The full resolution image weighs 14.3 MB, so please be patient when downloading!
Image enhancement: Jean-Baptiste Faure