Two new images taken by NASA/Hubble Telescope captures the jaw-dropping phenomenon of two stars gone haywire. While gawking at the mysterious Universe is daily bread for the world’s most powerful and advanced space telescope, this time what the Hubble saw is making scientists fell like “a kid in a candy store.”
Codenamed as the NGC 6302/ Butterfly Nebula, and NGC 7027, the recent images of these two young planetary nebulae in our Milky Way Galaxy show two stars a the brink of their lives, possibly after existing for hundreds of millions to billions of years, Hubble Space Telescope explains.
This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope depicts NGC 6302, commonly known as the Butterfly Nebula. NGC 6302 lies within our Milky Way galaxy, roughly 3800 light-years away in the constellation of Scorpius. The glowing gas was once the star’s outer layers but has been expelled over about 2200 years. The butterfly shape stretches for more than two light-years, which is about half the distance from the Sun to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri. New observations of the object have found unprecedented levels of complexity and rapid changes in the jets and gas bubbles blasting off of the star at the center of the nebula (Description text by ESA/Hubble)
The two new images are particularly invoking sleepless nights to researchers because the images captured are taken in full wavelength range, enabling observation in near-ultraviolet to near-infrared lights. All thanks to the Wide Field Camera 3.
To better understand the cosmic phenomenon in the Butterfly nebula image, pictured above, Hubble strikes a simile with a garden sprinkler madly throwing water in ‘S’ shape from the middle. “In this case, it is not water in the air, but gas blown out at high speed by a star,” they explain. However, naked eyes won’t show this image, and the ‘S’ shows up when captured by the Hubble camera that can record near-infrared emission “from singly ionized iron atoms.”
“These new multi-wavelength Hubble observations provide the most comprehensive view to date of both of these spectacular nebulae,” a Rochester Institute of Technology scientist, Joel Kastner told. “As I was downloading the resulting images, I felt like a kid in a candy store.”
This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope depicts NGC 7027, or the “Jewel Bug” nebula. The object had been slowly puffing away its mass in quiet, spherically symmetric, or perhaps spiral patterns for centuries — until relatively recently when it produced a new cloverleaf pattern. New observations of the object have found unprecedented levels of complexity and rapid changes in the jets and gas bubbles blasting off of the star at the center of the nebula (Description text by ESA/Hubble)
Explaining what is interesting in the two images, Hubble Space Telescope statement says stars are ‘engines of nuclear fusion,’ and hence they live a calm life. However, the clam of their life turns into a crazy show of hot gas jets wriggling and puffing off the star before it dies, becoming a cosmic firework.
These two planetary nebula are in the ‘firework stage’ right now, and “the researchers have found unprecedented levels of complexity and rapid changes in the jets and gas bubbles blasting off of the stars at the center of each nebula,” the statement reads. Hence, Hubble is now allowing researchers to study the underlying chaos.
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(Cover image courtesy of ESA/Hubble)