Butterfly emerges from stellar demise in planetary nebula NGC 6302
This celestial object looks like a delicate butterfly. But it is far from serene.
What resemble dainty butterfly wings are actually roiling cauldrons of gas heated to nearly 20 000 degrees Celsius. The gas is tearing across space at more than 950 000 kilometres per hour ??" fast enough to travel from Earth to the Moon in 24 minutes!
A dying star that was once about five times the mass of the Sun is at the centre of this fury. It has ejected its envelope of gases and is now unleashing a stream of ultraviolet radiation that is making the cast-off material glow. This object is an example of a planetary nebula, so-named because many of them have a round appearance resembling that of a planet when viewed through a small telescope.
Credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA and the SM4 ERO Team
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