Astronomers Locate ‘Ghost of a Star’ Just in Time for Halloween

by Shelby Scott
Photo by: NASA/ESA via Getty Images

Talk about a spooky find. Just in time for Halloween, astronomers have released new photos of the ghost of a star, one that exploded several thousand years ago. The images of the supernova remnant show nothing but creepy tendrils of pink and orange gas clouds which look eerily similar to cobwebs.

According to CNN, the deceased supernova, known as the Vela supernova remnant, exploded 11,000 years ago. What we see in the photos are the remnants of the massive star, which is located 800 lightyears—the equivalent of 6 trillion miles—away from earth.

Per the outlet, the supernova, which is one of the final stages of a star’s life, sent massive shockwaves penetrating the layers of gas nearby that the star formerly emitted. Those shockwaves are the cause of the celestial spiderwebs we see 800 lightyears away from earth. They compressed the nearby gas at the time of the star’s explosion, leaving ghost-like threads in its place.

The news outlet reports the star’s ghost-like remnants burn brightly due to the heat emitted by the shockwaves millennia ago. Astronomers manning the VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile released new images of the star remnant on Halloween. Even more fascinating, the ghost of the late star is home to more than just gassy tendrils. After becoming a supernova, a dead star then transforms into either a black hole or super-dense neutron star, otherwise known as a pulsar. The pulsar spins rapidly, releasing beams of light similar to the way a lighthouse does. However, in the case of these most recent photos, the pulsar itself lies just outside the frame.

Ghostly Image of ‘The Pillars of Creation’ Hides Newborn Stars

We aren’t the only ones getting our kicks out of this spooky time of the year. NASA‘s also celebrating Halloween, though much differently than we plan to do tonight. One of the most fascinating finds—of the billions that are out there—in our universe is what NASA’s identified as The Pillars of Creation, first discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995.

The Pillars of Creation are made up of space dust and gas, with NASA’s most recent image capturing the densest and hottest regions of the dust cloud in blue-gray. It also captures the cooler, less dense regions of the pillars, however, they appear as an eery orangey-red.

The photo caption above states that the “fingers” of the Pillars of Creation are immense. While the ghost-like star above certainly covers a lot of celestial acreage, the tendrils of clouds and dust seen in the above photo stretch an unimaginable distance of roughly 5 lightyears. That’s 30 trillion miles across space.

While the Pillars of Creation, a swathe of gray, blue, and orange in the James Webb Telescope’s newest image, appear slightly threatening, they’re actually harboring hordes of infantile stars. Though we can’t see them, NASA’s assured us they’re still there. Unlike the near-infrared image of the Pillars of Creation taken earlier this month though, the stars are less prominent in the new photo.