A Butterfly in the Sky

m2d9_hubble_985What happens when a star dies? In the case of low-mass stars like our Sun and M2-9 pictured above, such stars transform themselves into white dwarfs by throwing off their outer gaseous envelopes. The expelled gas often forms a planetary nebula that fades away over thousand of years. M2-9 is a butterfly planetary nebula 2100 light-years away. There are two stars orbiting inside the central gaseous disk 10 times larger than the orbit of Pluto. The expelled gas of the dying star breaks out from the disk in a bipolar pattern.

Image Credit: NASA

5 thoughts on “A Butterfly in the Sky

  1. I’ve seen a lot of images in my years, and even do amateur imaging of solar system objects. Normally your standard Nasa nebula image doesn’t impress me a great deal, I’ve seen most of them many times over.

    This one though, holy crap that is impressive. Any details, or source linking so I can find out more on the instruments used, which colors represent which wavelengths, etc?

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