Image of the Day: The Fragile Beauty of a Supernova Embryo


The Crescent Nebula was created about 250,000 years ago by the brightest star in its center,  a Wolf-Rayet star destined to become a supernova. The massive central star shed its outer envelope in a strong stellar wind, ejecting the equivalent of our Sun's mass every 10,000 years. This wind impacted surrounding gas left over from a previous phase, compacting it into a series of complex shells, and lighting it up. The Crescent Nebula, also known as NGC 6888, lies about 4,700 light-years away in the constellation of Cygnus. Star WR 136 will probably undergo a supernova explosion sometime in the next million years.

Image credit: Franck Bugnet


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