Resembling a butterfly with its symmetrical structure, beautiful colors and intricate patterns, this striking gas bubble, known as NGC 2899, appears floating and flying in the sky in this new image from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the l ̵6;ESO. This object had never been imagined in such astonishing detail, even the faint outer edges of the planetary nebula shone over the background stars.
NGC 2899’s extensive gas strokes extend up to a maximum of two light-years from its center, glowing brightly in front of the Milky Way stars as the gas reaches temperatures of more than ten thousand degrees. The high temperatures are due to the large amount of radiation from the nebula’s parent star, which causes the nebula’s hydrogen gas to glow a reddish blue around the oxygen gas, which is blue.
This object, located between 3000 and 6500 light-years away in the southern constellation Vela (The Sails), has two central stars, which are believed to give it an almost symmetrical appearance. After one star reaches the end of its life and is outside its outer layers, the other star interferes with the flow of gas, forming the shape of two lobes seen here. Only about 10-20% of planetary nebulae show this type of bipolar shape.
Astronomers were able to capture this highly detailed image of NGC 2899 using the FORS instrument installed at UT1 (Antu), one of four 8.2-meter telescopes that make up the ESO VLT in Chile. This high-resolution instrument was one of the first to be installed in the VLT of ESO and is behind numerous images and discoveries of ESO. FORS has contributed to observations of light from a gravitational wave source, investigated the first known interstellar asteroid, and has been used to study in depth the physics behind the formation of complex planetary nebulae.
This image was created with the ESO Cosmic Gems program, an outreach initiative to produce images of interesting, intriguing or visually appealing objects using ESO telescopes, for educational and public outreach purposes. The program uses a telescope time that cannot be used for scientific observations. All the data collected can also be suitable for scientific purposes and made available to astronomers through the ESO scientific archive.
The Gemini South telescope captures an exquisite planetary nebula
Citation: Awesome Space Butterfly Captured by Telescope (2020, July 30) Retrieved July 31, 2020 at https://phys.org/news/2020-07-stunning-space-butterfly-captured-telescope.html
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