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NGC 6960 - the western segment of the Veil Nebula

Object description:

The Veil Nebula is the perfect example of a supernova remnant and has an apparent diameter of 3 degrees in the sky. Our image shows NGC 6960 the main western main segment.

The gas ejected by the supernova explosion expands and spreads out almost spherically at about 180 kilometres per second, or nearly 600 000 kilometres per hour. In the process, it collides with the surrounding interstellar medium (shown here on the right), heating up to several million degrees and forming a structure of luminous filaments and nebulae.

Depending on the chemical elements present in the remnants of the stellar explosion, the gas is ionised and begins to glow. In the case of the Veil Nebula, the elements hydrogen, nitrogen and sulphur glow in red hues and the triply ionised oxygen in blue-green/turquoise hues.

The prominent bright star near NGC 6960 - 52 Cygni - has nothing to do with the Veil Nebula, because it is far in the foreground at a distance of about 200 light-years. It is assigned to the spectral type G 9.5-III.

According to estimates, the supernova that formed the Veil Nebula should have reached full moon brightness for a few weeks and thus should have been visible in the daytime sky. However, prehistoric observations or descriptions are not known.

The brightest parts of the nebula (eastern and western regions) were discovered by Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel in 1784.

« Click here or the thumbnail to load a large annoted image and a size comparison to the full moon.

A mosaic of NGC 6992 and NGC 6960 - the eastern and western parts of the Cirrus Nebula - we show here. There you will also find detailed information about the Cirrus Nebula in its entirety. Large images of 1800 x 1100 Pixel and 3500 x 2100 Pixel of the Mosaic are shown here.

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All Images und all Content are © by Franz Hofmann + Wolfgang Paech