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A stunning space butterfly captured with a telescope



Stunning space butterfly captured with an ESO telescope

Credit: ESO

This impressive gas bubble, known as NGC 2899, is reminiscent of a butterfly whose symmetrical structure, beautiful colors, and intricate patterns seem to float and flutter in the sky in this new image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). This object has never been depicted so brightly that even the faint outer edges of the planetary nebula shone above the background stars.

The massive gas flows of NGC 2899 continue for no more than two light-years from its center and shine brightly in front of the stars of the Milky Way as the gas reaches a temperature of ten thousand degrees. The high temperature is caused by the high amount of radiation from the nebula star, which causes the hydrogen gas on the farm to glow blue with halogen around the oxygen gas.

This object, located between 3,000 and 6,500 light-years from the southern constellation of Vela (Sails), has two central stars that are thought to give it an almost symmetrical appearance. At the end of the life of one star and the removal of its outer layers, the other star obstructs the flow of gas, forming the shape of the two bands seen here. Only about 1

0-20% of planetary nebulae have this type of bipolar form.

Astronomers were able to capture this highly detailed image of NGC 2899 using a FORS instrument equipped with UT1 (Antu), one of four 8.2-meter telescopes that make up the ESO VLT in Chile. This FOcal reducer and low dispersion spectrograph was one of the first to be installed in the ESO VLT, and contains many amazing images and discoveries from the ESO. FORS contributed to the observation of light from a source of gravitational waves, studied the first known interstellar asteroid, and was used to study in depth the physics involved in the formation of complex planetary nebulae.





This image was created under the ESO Space Gems program, an outreach initiative designed to produce images of interesting, intriguing or visually appealing objects using ESO telescopes for educational and public information purposes. The program uses telescope time that cannot be used for scientific observations. All data collected may also be suitable for scientific purposes and are available to astronomers through the ESO Science Archive.


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Citation: Stunning Space Butterfly Captured by Telescope (July 30, 2020), Obtained in July 2020 July 31 From https://phys.org/news/2020-07-stunning-space-butterfly-captured-telescope.html

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