Looking more like a wisp of stellar smoke than anything else, these shockwaves are anything but gentle. The twisted mass is part of the Veil Nebula, the remnants of a star that now tears through space.
The Veil Nebula was a star 10,000 years ago. Brighter and bigger than our sun, it burned out, collapsed and then exploded. At that point, it ejected its outer layers at speeds of over 595,000km/h, creating massive shockwaves as the matter tore through surrounding gases in interstellar space. This image shows just a small snapshot of those effects, known as the south-eastern knot. In fact the entire nebula measures 50 light-years in radius, and is located almost 1500 light-years away. [ESA]
Picture: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage