The brilliant clusters of nebulae that can be seen from Earth are frequently named after flowers or insects. NGC 6302 is no exception, despite having a wingspan of over three light-years. The dying core star of this nebula seems to have become incredibly hot, with a projected surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees Celsius, burning bright in ultraviolet light but obscured from direct view by a dense torus of dust.
The Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3, which was equipped during the concluding shuttle servicing mission, captured this sharp and colorful close-up of the dying star's nebula in 2009.
The Butterfly Nebula can be found deep within the Milky Way galaxy's arms. Tucked deep in the constellation Scorpius, sitting a distant 4,000 light-years away. This planetary nebula is well-known for its wing-like structure, which resembles a butterfly.
Beautiful as it may, it is, however, a harsh and lethal environment, as are nearly all deep space objects.
NASA recently shared a stunning image of the Butterfly Nebula on social media platform Instagram. Its intricate clouds of gas spread outward like wings, perfectly embodying the shape and essence of its etymological root. But why is it shaped in this manner?
Several scientists suspect that even before the Butterfly Nebula was a nebula, this was a binary star system that orbited in the plane which is now observed as the butterfly's body. This central plane was surrounded by a dense, oblate cloud of dust that orbited the stars.
The larger of the two stars apparently ran out of fuel. The core of the star imploded in on itself because it could no longer sustain its own weight due to the outward pressure created during fusion. As it shrank, the pressure and temperature at its core increased, causing the fusion to re-ignite. When the core's push-back was abruptly reversed, the star's outer layers were flung outward. They shot away from the star across all directions, but the thick disk of dust slowed the gas as it traveled along the orbital plane. As a result, two opposing jets of hot gas flew away from the star at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour, forming the butterfly's wings.
In the new photo, they studied radiation from ultraviolet to infrared wavelengths, understanding more about this enigmatic object than ever now. Ionized iron streaks can be seen across the bottom of the left wing and the top of the right wing in the new image. Scientists are not really sure why its wings does not have that symmetry, but it could be a hint about other complexities within the butterfly that are still unknown.
A number of questions surrounding the Butterfly Nebula remain unsolved; for instance, scientists are still unsure whether their binary star theory is correct. However, there seems to be no reason to suspect that the massive ejection of gas into the wings of this nebula was triggered by the tremendous death of a star.
The Butterfly Nebula's article is one of new life, so as the butterfly is an emblem of transformation.