In this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the mysterious remnants of supernova DEM L 190 float across the screen. The thin sheets and intricate filaments are debris from the catastrophic deaths of massive stars that once lived in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. DEM L 190 — also known as LMC N49 — is the brightest supernova remnant in the Large Magellanic Cloud and is located about 160,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Dorado.
This striking image was created with data from two different astronomical probes using one of Hubble’s retired instruments, the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). The instrument has since been replaced by the more powerful Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), but during its operational life it contributed to cutting-edge science and produced a number of stunning public awareness images.
The first of two WFPC2 probes uses DEM L 190 as a natural laboratory to study the interactions between supernova remnants and the interstellar medium, the fine mixture of gas and dust found between stars.
In the second project, astronomers turned to Hubble to locate the origin of the Soft Gamma-ray Repeater, a mysterious object lurking in DEM L 190 that repeatedly emits bursts of high-energy gamma rays.
This isn’t the first publicly released image of DEM L 190—an earlier Hubble portrait of this supernova remnant was released in 2003 (image above). This new image incorporates additional data and improved image processing techniques, making this spectacular fireworks display in the sky even more stunning!