‘Butterfly Nebula’ catches Hubble’s attention

By | September 13, 2009

These two images of the Carina Nebula show the same object as seen in visible and in infrared light.The Butterfly Nebula is about 3,800 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius.

Forget Hollywood special effects or Impressionist paintings — some of the most stunning images are created by the mysterious and often violent forces in the universe. Witness the handful of new snapshots taken by the Hubble Space Telescope which was equipped with a new imaging camera during a space shuttle servicing mission in May. It s back in business and there s lots to ooh and aah over. “Let there be no doubt this is truly Hubble s new beginning ” said Ed Weiler NASA s associate administrator during a news conference Wednesday. Take the image on the left of planetary nebula NGC 6302 also known as the Bug Nebula or the Butterfly Nebula. Its “wings” are made of gas heated to more than 36 000 degrees Fahrenheit and there is a dying star at its center. “The gas is tearing across space at more than 600 000 miles an hour — fast enough to travel from Earth to the moon in 24 minutes ” NASA s Web site says. The “butterfly” is more than 2 light-years across. NASA took advantage of the special filters on Hubble s camera to isolate the light of different elements said Bob O Connell chair of the science oversight committee for Wide Field Camera 3. The red in the image is nitrogen gas for example and the blue is oxygen. See some of the previous amazing images taken by Hubble Colors are also prominent in the image of globular star cluster Omega Centauri which contains almost 10 million stars but the color contrast here is real. The gold dots are stars like our sun but the blue ones are extremely hot while the red ones are cool O Connell said.

via ‘Butterfly Nebula’ catches Hubble’s attention – CNN.com.

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