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NASA captures the 'fading ghost' of a Milky Way supernova

The Spitzer Space Telescope snaps the ethereal remnants of an ancient, dead star.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPAC

Somewhere between 80,000 and a million years ago, a titanic explosion ripped apart a star in a section of our Milky Way galaxy, some 6,400 light years from Earth.

What it left behind were ghostly, red tendrils of energized gas, reaching out into the cosmos. Those tendrils belong to the supernova remnant HBH 3, which was first detected in 1966. Supernova remnants are what remain after a star has exploded -- and we know how stunning those celestial fireworks can turn out to be. Just take a look at the photo NASA snapped of the Crab Nebula back in May 2017.

NASA snapped the image above via the Spitzer Space Telescope, one of the four Great Observatories orbiting the Earth, which "sees" in the infrared spectrum. Spitzer was launched in 2003 and originally slated to carry out observations for five years. On Aug. 25, it celebrates its 15th birthday.

Aren't we supposed to be giving gifts instead of receiving them? Thanks and happy birthday, Spitzer!