The Butterfly Nebula


butterfly_hstThis is NGC 6302 (aka The Butterfly Nebula). It is approximately 4,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Scorpius (the Scorpion). With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 °C, the dying central star of this planetary nebula shining brightly in ultraviolet light, but it’s hidden from direct view by a dense doughnut-shaped cloud of dust. This close-up of the nebula was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope‘s Wide Field Camera 3 which was installed during the final shuttle servicing mission. The dust torus (the doughnut) surrounding the central star is near the center of this view, almost edge-on to the line-of-sight. Click on the image to embiggen it.

Image Credit: NASA

NGC 1569


The NGC 1569 is a relatively nearby dwarf irregular galaxy in Camelopardalis. It’s characterized by a large starburst that has formed stars at a rate 100 times greater than that of the Milky Way during the last 100 million years.

The spectrum of NGC 1569 is blueshifted. This means that the galaxy is moving towards the Earth. In contrast, the spectra of most other galaxies are redshifted because of the expansion of the universe.

Image Credit: NASA

V838 Monocerotis


V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon) is a red variable star in the constellation Monoceros about 20,000 light years from the Earth. It was first observed in early 2002 experiencing a major outburst, and it was one of the largest known stars for a short period following the outburst. At first, V838 Mon was thought to be a typical nova eruption, but it is now known to be something completely different. Just what is still uncertain, but a couple of the possibilities are an eruption related to stellar death processes or a merger of a binary star or planets.

The remnant is evolving rapidly. This animation is a morphing sequence between the five individual Hubble images that were taken between 20 May, 2002, and 8 February, 2004.

Video Credit: ESA

Hubble’s Variable Nebula


NGC 2261 is an odd nebula is named for Edwin Hubble, who studied it early last century. It’s appearance can change over short periods of time. Hubble’s Variable Nebula is a reflection nebula made of gas and fine dust moving out from the star R Monocerotis. The faint nebula is about one light-year across and lies about 2500 light-years away in the constellation of Monocerotis (the Unicorn). The leading explanation for the nebula’s rapid changes suggests that dense knots of opaque dust is passing close to R Mon and cast moving shadows onto the reflecting dust seen in the rest of the nebula.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA
Data: Mark Clampin (GSFC)
Processing & License: Judy Schmidt, CC BY 2.0

Messier 5


Messier 5 (aka M5) is a globular star cluster of over 100,000 stars bound by gravity and packed into a region about 165 light-years across. It’s about 25,000 light-years away. Globular star clusters are ancient members of the Milky Way, and M5 is one of the oldest. Its stars are nearly 13 billion years old.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA