Image Credit: NASA, ESA, HEIC, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Acknowledgment: Y.-H. Chu and R. M. Williams (UIUC)
To me, this image of what happens after a supernova blows up, has always looked like a piranha or some sort of angry fish. This image of N 63A from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope; that’s what astronomers call it, used to be a huge star, many times bigger than the sun. Stars like N 63A have violent lives. They live quickly and then explode with force that for a short time they outshine entire galaxies.
This supernova leftover exploded and spread its gas and dust into the space around it. This fish is more than 30 light years across. N 63A is located in a galaxy that orbits our Milky Way Galaxy. It is called the Large Magellanic Cloud and is 160,000 light years away. If you live in the southern hemisphere you can see this little galaxy hanging in the sky like a cloud. This cloud and another, called the Small Magellanic Cloud, are named after the explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Magellan was the first European to sail around the world in the 1500s.