Cosmic ‘Butterfly’

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Spectacular sighting by the Hubble Telescope. Jacqueline Howard writes in The Huffington Post, USA, on August 27, 2015.

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Say hello to the stunning butterfly-like wings of the Twin Jet Nebula.

The Twin Jet Nebula
ESA/Hubble The shimmering colors visible in this Hubble Space Telescope image show off the remarkable complexity of the Twin Jet Nebula, or PN M2-9.

Who knew that there are “butterflies” in deep space?

A new image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope shows the bipolar planetary nebula PN M2-9, known as the Twin Jet Nebula, in all of its glory – and the cosmic beauty appears butterfly-like in shape and color.

The Twin Jet Nebula was first discovered by German-American astronomer Rudolph Minkowski (1895-1976) in 1947. While a previous image of the brilliant nebula was released in 1997, this latest image incorporates more recent observations.

Planetary nebulae are the glowing shells of gas given off by dying stars. Since the Twin Jet Nebula is a bipolar nebula, there are two stars at its core. Its butterfly-like “wings” are caused by the interaction of the two central stars, which are similar in mass to our sun and circle one another every 100 years.

Based on the expansion of the Twin Jet Nebula’s wings, astronomers have concluded that the nebula formed about 1,200 years ago – and  the wings are still growing.

Take the journey into deep space here:

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