An image showing the distribution of massive stars in the new study. Our location within the Galaxy is circled in black. J. Urquhart et al./Background image by Robert Hurt of the Spitzer Science Center. hide caption

itoggle caption J. Urquhart et al./Background image by Robert Hurt of the Spitzer Science Center.

Just the tiniest slice of what's out there: the Pencil Nebula is pictured in an image from the European Southern Observatory's La Silla facility in Chile. This peculiar cloud of glowing gas is part of a huge ring of wreckage left over after a supernova explosion that took place about 11,000 years ago. ESO hide caption

itoggle caption ESO