As interesting and epic photos of space can be, the unknown can be just as equally spooky. Case in point, NASA released a snapshot of the Cygnus Loop over the weekend, and the result is pretty spooktacular. As the post shares, the Cygnus Loop nebula was formed after a cosmic explosion thousands of years ago, with the blue cosmic clouds haunting the skies.
"The wispy blue swirls of the Cygnus Loop nebula are the result of a massive stellar explosion that occurred 5,000 to 8,000 years ago," NASA says alongside the photo. "However, the shockwave from this explosion is still spreading out through space. Supernova remnants like this nebula play an important role in stellar evolution, enriching space with heavy elements and spurring the formation of new stars by compressing stellar gas."
According to the post, the picture is an ultraviolet (UV) image from NASA's GALEX imager.
"The gas and dust visible here in an ultraviolet (UV) image from our Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) were heated by the shockwave from the supernova," the post adds. "GALEX was an orbiting space telescope that made observations at UV wavelengths to measure the history of stars forming in the universe—nearly all the way back to the Big Bang."
Scientists believe the Cygnus Loop to be approximately 2,600 light-years away from Earth and is largely made up of oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur. According to some studies, the oxygen emits light at a balmy 60,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Researchers also expect similar photos from the James Webb Space Telescope, which is releasing its first-ever high-resolution images this coming week.
"With the Webb telescope achieving better-than-expected image quality, early in commissioning we intentionally defocused the guiders by a small amount to help ensure they met their performance requirements," Webb scientist Neil Rowlands said in a blog post earlier month. "When this image was taken, I was thrilled to clearly see all the detailed structure in these faint galaxies. Given what we now know is possible with deep broad-band guider images, perhaps such images, taken in parallel with other observations where feasible, could prove scientifically useful in the future."