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I HEART HUBBLE: Stellar Demise

NASA: Butterfly Emerges from Stellar Demise in Planetary Nebula NGC 6302
I HEART HUBBLE is an ongoing series about everyone’s favourite space telescope. If we can’t go to space ourselves, at least we can browse through NASA’s royalty-free imagery and enjoy the scenery. Ad astra!

“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 more than 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The gas is tearing across space at more than 600,000 miles an 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 center 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.

Source of image and quoted text: Hubblesite.org

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