ROBERT GENDLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROBERT GENDLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Supernova remnant Simeis 147, optical image. These delicate filaments of glowing gas are the remains of a massive star that ended its life in a supernova explosion around 100,000 years ago. A supernova is how a massive star ends its life. The star fuses successively heavier elements until it attempts to fuse iron, a process that produces no energy. Without energy production the outer layers of the star collapse suddenly and then rebound off the super-dense core. The rebound is so energetic that a supernova outshines an entire galaxy for a time. The outer layers glow as they are ionised by heat shock when they impact the interstellar medium. Simeis 147 lies 3000 light years away in the constellation Taurus.
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