NASA recently shared a stunning image of a supernova remnant with a very unusual shape. According to the agency, cosmic object’s strange appearance was caused by its interaction with its surroundings.

The supernova remnant featured in NASA’s photo is known as 3C 397. This massive cosmic object measures about 250 light-years across. It is located in the constellation Aquila and is situated about 33,000 light-years away from Earth’s neighborhood.

Usually, the remains of a star’s death and massive explosion appear as circular clumps of expanding hot gas. However, in the photo taken by the agency’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, the 3C 397 appears as a purple box in space.

According to NASA, this supernova remnant’s odd shape was caused by its surroundings. As the hot gas from the star’s explosion expanded into space, it ran into the cooler gas in the surrounding region. This affected the movement of the hot gas and the overall shape of the cosmic object.

Aside from 3C 397, NASA noted that the photo also contains various infrared emissions that were captured by different observatories including the agency’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

“3C 397 (also known as G41.1-0.3) is a Galactic supernova remnant with an unusual shape,” NASA explained in a statement. “Researchers think its box-like appearance is produced as the heated remains of the exploded star -- detected by Chandra in X-rays (purple) -- runs into cooler gas surrounding it.”

“This composite of the area around 3C 397 also contains infrared emission from Spitzer (yellow) and optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey (red, green, and blue),” the agency added.

A previous study conducted by researchers from NASA on 3C 397 focused on the mass of its star before it died and exploded. Based on the findings of the researchers, the supernova was caused by a single white dwarf. White dwarves are usually about as big as Earth but as massive as the Sun, making them one of the densest objects in space.

Through the findings of the researchers, they were able to rule out a previous notion that 3C 397 was the result of a supernova caused by a pair of merging white dwarfs.

3C 397
3C 397 (also known as G41.1-0.3) is a Galactic supernova remnant with an unusual shape NASA/CXC/Univ of Manitoba/S.Safi-Harb et al