The newly captured images show an interstellar phenomenon fluttering with its etheric wings in stunning detail. The spectacular display comes from a highly symmetrical gas nebula known as NGC 2899.
The image was captured as part of the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Space Gems program for education and public communication purposes.
Looking into deep space with ESO’s very large telescope, astronomers enjoyed the sight of a huge bubble of glowing gas in an almost symmetrical shape resembling a butterfly 3,000 to 6,500 light-years from Earth.
Although the nebula was discovered by the British astronomer John Herschel in 1835, no one had ever seen it in such high resolution before.
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The wingspan of a butterfly is almost 19 trillion kilometers or two light-years. It is also incredibly hot, as the hydrogen and oxygen that make up its “body” heat up to about 10,000 degrees Celsius (twice as hot as the Sun) thanks to two stars in the center that are supposed to give it its symmetrical appearance. .
NGC 2899 can only be viewed from the southern hemisphere and only through the powerful telescope – aptly known as the Very Large Telescope – located in Chile.
Its four 8.2-meter telescopes have discovered a number of images of deep-space objects, including the first known interstellar asteroid and light from a gravitational wave source.
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