A Star Violently Died To Bring You This Jaw-Dropping Image From NASA's Space Telescope

fireworks supernova
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured an image of the debris left behind from the cataclysmic death of a massive star. Dem L 190 is the brightest supernova remnant in the Large Magellanic Cloud and resides approximately 160,000 light-years from Earth.

DEM L 190 resembles the "puffs of smoke and sparks from a summer fireworks display." The exquisite filaments are actually sheets of debris from a stellar explosion in a neighboring galaxy. The remnant is from a massive star that died in a supernova blast whose light would have reached Earth thousands of years ago. Hubble first captured DEM L 190 in 2003 (see image below), with the latest image incorporating additional data and improved image processing techniques.

supernova hubble 2008
DEM L 190 image captured by Hubble in 2003

The new data came from two different astronomical investigations, utilizing one of Hubble's retired instruments, the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). While WFPC2 has since been replaced by the more powerful Wide Field Camera 3, it produced a series of stunning public outreach images. The first investigation used DEM L 190 as a natural laboratory. During this time, it studied the interaction of supernova remnants and the interstellar medium. In the second investigation, astronomers used Hubble to pinpoint the origin of a Soft Gamma-ray Repeater.

The filamentary material in DEM L 190 will eventually become recycled into building new generations of stars. This is the same process from which our own Sun and planets were constructed, via similar debris of a supernova that exploded in the Milky Way billions of years ago, according to NASA.

The supernova remnant also shelters a very powerful spinning neutron star that may be the central remnant from the initial blast. It is not uncommon for the core of an exploded supernova star to become a spinning neutron star, also called a pulsar due to the regular pulses of energy from the rotational spin.