This image is NGC 6960 and is part of the Cygnus Loop. It is also known as the “Veil Nebula” or sometimes, “The witches broom”. About 15,000 years ago, there was a cataclysmic explosion in the area of our Galaxy that we call Cygnus, or the Swan. A large star of at least 8 solar masses exploded in what is known as a Supernova. This single event released 100 times more energy than our sun has produced over its 4.5 Billion year lifetime. Gas and debris were sent flying into interstellar space at tremendous speeds. Since that time, the remnant gases have been moving across space, like expanding ripples in a pond, and have created a ring of gas that is about 80 light years across and is known as the Cygnus Loop. The area lies about 1,500 light years away from us in our Milky Way Galaxy and is about 300 light years above the galactic plane. Another supernova in the vicinity, which is estimated to have exploded about 5,000 years ago, sent a shock wave that has collided with the remnants of the first Supernova. This turbulent interface has energized the gases and allows us to detect them in the visible spectrum. Thin filaments can be seen in the image that are reflective of the shock fronts impact on the surrounding gases. These shock waves are believed to be triggering events for the genesis of new stars, as it precipitates the accretion and condensation of interstellar gas. (Image published in October, 2007 issue of Astrophotography Insight magazine, February, 2007 issue of "Sky and Telescope" magazine, 2011 special issue of Astronomy Magazine's Spectacular Universe and September 2018 issue of Astronomy Magazine.)
Image acquisition information:
Location: Starlodge Observatory, Ione, CA
Date: August, 2007
Scope: Takahashi FSQ 106
Mount: Paramount ME
Camera: STL 11000
Ha was used for luminance, and blended into Red channel.