It’s called the Witch’s Broom Nebula after a telescope in Chile acquired a breathtaking image of star residue from a supernova explosion some 11,000 years ago.
“The death of the star behind the supernova created a beautiful vista as material blasted out into space formed strange structures in the sky,” stated a release from the European Southern Observatory.
Even though the entire structure looks like a witch’s broom, its official name is Pencil Nebula because the brightest of it resembles a pencil according to ESO’s headquarters in Garching, Germany.
“These glowing filaments were created by the violent death of a star that took place about 11 000 years ago,” ESO officials said in an image announcement on Wednesday, Sept. 12. “The brightest part resembles a pencil; hence the name, but the whole structure looks rather more like a traditional witch’s broom.”
This nebula was first discovered by astronomer John Herschel in 1835. ‘He described the nebula as “an extraordinary long narrow ray of excessively feeble light,”‘ ESO officials said. ‘Because of that, it was sometimes referred to as “Herschel’s Ray,”‘ they added.
Astronomers have been able to map the object’s temperature fluctuations by studying varies hues of the Pencil nebula, which measures around 0.75 light-years across.