Veil Nebula
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Veil Nebula
Veil Nebula
Diffuse nebula
supernova remnant
Veil Nebula - NGC6960.jpg
Western Veil nebula
Observation data: J2000.0 epoch
Right ascension 20h 45m 38.0s[1]
Declination+30° 42′ 30″[1]
Distance1470[2] ly
Apparent magnitude (V)7.0
Apparent dimensions (V)3 degrees (diameter)
Physical characteristics
Radius50 ly
DesignationsNGC 6960,[1] 6992,[1] 6995,[1] 6974, and 6979, IC 1340, Cygnus Loop, Cirrus Nebula,[1] Filamentary Nebula,[1] Witch's Broom Nebula (NGC 6960),[3]Caldwell 33/34
See also: Lists of nebulae

The Veil Nebula is a cloud of heated and ionized gas and dust in the constellation Cygnus.[4]

It constitutes the visible portions of the Cygnus Loop,[5] a supernova remnant, many portions of which have acquired their own individual names and catalogue identifiers. The source supernova was a star 20 times more massive than the Sun, which exploded around 8,000 years ago.[4] The remnants have since expanded to cover an area of the sky roughly 3 degrees in diameter (about 6 times the diameter, or 36 times the area, of the full Moon).[4] The distance to the nebula is not precisely known, but Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) data supports a distance of about 1,470 light-years.[2]

The Hubble Space Telescope captured several images of the nebula. The analysis of the emissions from the nebula indicate the presence of oxygen, sulfur, and hydrogen.[6] The Cygnus Loop is also a strong emitter of radio waves and x-rays.[7]

On 24 September 2015 new images and videos of the Veil Nebula were released,[8] with an explanation of the images.[9]


In modern usage, the names Veil Nebula, Cirrus Nebula, and Filamentary Nebula generally refer to all the visible structure of the remnant, or even to the entire loop itself. The structure is so large that several NGC numbers were assigned to various arcs of the nebula.[10] There are three main visual components:

  • The Western Veil (also known as Caldwell 34), consisting of NGC 6960 (the "Witch's Broom", "Finger of God",[11] Lacework Nebula,[7] "Filamentary Nebula"[11]) near the foreground star 52 Cygni;
  • The Eastern Veil (also known as Caldwell 33), whose brightest area is NGC 6992, trailing off farther south into NGC 6995 (together with NGC 6992 also known as "Network Nebula"[12]) and IC 1340; and
  • Pickering's Triangle (or Pickering's Triangular Wisp), brightest at the north central edge of the loop, but visible in photographs continuing toward the central area of the loop.

NGC 6974 and NGC 6979 are luminous knots in a fainter patch of nebulosity on the northern rim between NGC 6992 and Pickering's Triangle.[13][14]


A broad view of Cygnus loop/Veil nebula in ultraviolet

The nebula was discovered on 1784 September 5 by William Herschel. He described the western end of the nebula as "Extended; passes thro' 52 Cygni... near 2 degree in length", and described the eastern end as "Branching nebulosity... The following part divides into several streams uniting again towards the south."

When finely resolved, some parts of the image appear to be rope-like filaments. The standard explanation is that the shock waves are so thin, less than one part in 50,000 of the radius,[15] that the shell is visible only when viewed exactly edge-on, giving the shell the appearance of a filament. Given a distance of 1470 Light Years, this gives the radius of the entire nebula as 38.5 Light Years (total width, 77 Light Years). At 1/50,000th of the radius, this places the thickness of each filament at around 4 billion miles, or roughly the distance to Pluto. Undulations in the surface of the shell lead to multiple filamentary images, which appear to be intertwined.

Even though the nebula has a relatively bright integrated magnitude of 7, it is spread over so large an area that the surface brightness is quite low, so the nebula is notorious among astronomers as being difficult to see. However, an observer can see the nebula clearly in a telescope using an OIII filter (a filter isolating the wavelength of light from doubly ionized oxygen), as almost all light from this nebula is emitted at this wavelength. An 8-inch (200 mm) telescope equipped with an OIII filter shows the delicate lacework apparent in photographs, and with an OIII filter almost any telescope could conceivably see this nebula. Some argue that it can be seen without any optical aid except an OIII filter held up to the eye.

The brighter segments of the nebula have the New General Catalogue designations NGC 6960, 6974, 6979, 6992, and 6995. The easiest segment to find is 6960, which runs behind the naked eye star 52 Cygni. NGC 6992/5 are also relatively easy objects on the eastern side of the loop. NGC 6974 and NGC 6979 are visible as knots in an area of nebulosity along the northern rim. Pickering's Triangle is much fainter, and has no NGC number (though 6979 is occasionally used to refer to it). It was discovered photographically in 1904 by Williamina Fleming (after the New General Catalogue was published), but credit went to Edward Charles Pickering, the director of her observatory, as was the custom of the day.

In fiction

See Veil Nebula in fiction.



  1. ^ a b c d e f g "NGC 6960". SIMBAD. Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved .
  2. ^ a b William Blair. "Piercing the Veil: FUSE Observes a Star Behind the Cygnus Loop Supernova Remnant". FUSE Science Summaries. Archived from the original on 2012-12-11. Retrieved . Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ Nemiroff, R.; Bonnell, J., eds. (1 January 2007). "NGC 6960: The Witch's Broom Nebula". Astronomy Picture of the Day. NASA. Retrieved .
  4. ^ a b c Loff, Sarah (24 September 2015). "Veil Nebula Supernova Remnant". NASA. Retrieved 2018.
  5. ^ Burnham, Robert (1978). Burnham's Celestial Handbook. New York: Dover. p. 800-811. ISBN 978-0-486-23568-4.
  6. ^ "Astronomy Picture of the Day: Pickering's Triangle in the Veil". NASA. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Cygnus Loop". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018.
  8. ^ "Revisiting the Veil Nebula". Retrieved .
  9. ^ Blair, William (September 2015). "The Cygnus Loop/Veil Nebula Hubble Space Telescope" (PDF).
  10. ^ Tirion; Rappaport; Lovi (1991) [1987]. Uranometria 2000. 1. Richmond, VA: William-Bell, Inc. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-943396-14-9.
  11. ^ a b Tom Trusock, "Small Wonders: Cygnus ...", [section] "The Veil", Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews
  12. ^ Frommert, Hartmut. "NGC 6960, 6979, 6992, 6995: Veil Nebula".
  13. ^ "NGC/IC Project". Results for NGC 6974. Retrieved .
  14. ^ "NGC/IC Project". Results for NGC 6979. Retrieved .
  15. ^ William Blair. "Cygnus Loop HST Photo Release". William Blair Homepage at Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved .
  16. ^ "Revisiting the Veil Nebula". Retrieved 2015.

Coordinates: Sky map20h 45m 38s, +30° 42? 30?

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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