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Vela Supernova Remnant
About 11,000 years ago an inconspicuous star in what is now the constellation of Vela brightened by about 100 million times to rival the Moon as the brightest object in the night sky. This photograph shows the expanding nebulous shell, which now surrounds the site of the explosion. Near the centre of the nebula is the Vela pulsar (at tip of arrow), a rapidly-spinning neutron star only a few kilometres in diameter, the remnant of the star that exploded. This tiny object spins about 11 times a second, emitting radio pulses at that rate. It is among the faintest stars ever studied at optical wavelengths, a far cry from its brief glory as one of the brightest stars ever seen. The supernova remnant is about 1500 light years away and about 230 light years across. The Hubble Space Telescope has taken a close-up image of the edge of the shock wave.