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‘Space Butterfly’ is a giant gas bubble floating in the Milky Way



An image of a spectacular gas bubble in the Milky Way has been captured by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescope.

The striking planetary nebula, known as NGC 2899, appears to be floating and crashing across the sky in this pristine image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.

A planetary nebula is created when a star goes out of fuel to burn and blows its outer layers of gas into space.

NGC 2899 has never before been captured in such detail, revealing the faint outer edges of an enlarged gas shell that glows over the background stars.

The butterfly ‘blue pieces, located up to 6,500 light-years away, are made up of oxygen gas, while the surrounding reddish hue along the edge is hydrogen.

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This highly detailed image of planetary nebula NGC 2899 was captured using the FORS instrument at ESO's Very Large Telescope in northern Chile.  This object has never been photographed in such astonishing detail before

This highly detailed image of planetary nebula NGC 2899 was captured using the FORS instrument at ESO’s Very Large Telescope in northern Chile. This object has never been photographed in such astonishing detail before

“This object has never been photographed in such stunning detail, with even the faint outer edges of the planetary nebula shining in the background,” ESO said in a statement.

Despite their name, planetary nebulae – gas shells and dust emitted by a dying star – have nothing to do with the planets.

They form when ancient stars up to six times the mass of our Sun reach the end of their lives, collapsing and exploding expanded gas shells, rich in heavy elements.

Intense UV radiation energizes and ignites these moving shells, making them glow brightly for thousands of years.

Planetary nebulae are slowly dispersing through space, meaning they are relatively short-lived and rare – there are about 1,500 known galaxies, according to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

NGC 2899, discovered by English astronomer John Herschel in 1835, is located somewhere between 3,000 and 6,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Vela.

Large NGC 2899 gas spins extend up to a maximum of two light-years from its center and reach up to 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit or 10,000 degrees Celsius.

An image of the Omega Nebula, captured by the Very Large Telescope (VLT) with a dusty center and roses

An image of the Omega Nebula, captured by the Very Large Telescope (VLT) with a dusty center and roses

Such high temperatures are due to the large amount of radiation from the nebula’s stellar star, which causes the hydrogen gas in the nebula to glow in a reddish tinge around the oxygen gas, in blue.

NGC 2899 has two central stars, which are believed to give it its almost symmetrical appearance.

After one star reaches the end of its life and sheds its outer layers, the other star interferes with the flow of gas, forming the butterfly-shaped two-lobed shape seen here.

ESO said only about 10-20 percent of planetary nebulae exhibit this type of bipolar shape.

Astronomers were able to capture this image using the FORS (Low Dispersion FOcal Reducer and Spectrograph) instrument installed at UT1, one of the four 27-foot telescopes that make up VLT in Chile.

This high-resolution instrument was one of the first to be installed on the VLT – which started operating in 1998 – and is after other stunning images.

In 2013, FORS restored an image of a unique green nebula reminiscent of the Slimer ghost from the 1984 film Ghostbusters.

Planetary nebulae IC 1295 surrounding a dark and dying star.  It is located about 3300 light years away in the constellation of Scutum (Shield).

Planetary nebulae IC 1295 surrounding a dark and dying star. It is located about 3300 light years away in the constellation of Scutum (Shield).

Planetary nebula IC 1295 was discovered surrounding a faint, dead star set about 3,300 light-years away in the constellation Scutum.

She also previously caught a shot of The Omega Nebula about 6,500 light-years away in Sagittarius constellation, with a dusty center and roses.

FORS has been used to study in depth the physics behind the formation of complex planetary nebulae.

It’s also contributed to light observations from a gravitational wave source and researched the first known interstellar asteroid.

The asteroid, dubbed ‘Oumuamua’ by its discoverers, is up to a quarter of a mile (400 meters) long and very long – probably 10 times as long as it is wide.

VERY MUCH TELEXOPE IS A POWER BASED INSTRUMENT

The Southern European Observatory (ESO) built the most powerful telescope ever made in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.

It is called the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and it is is widely regarded as one of the most advanced optical instruments ever made.

It consists of four telescopes, whose the main mirrors measure 27 meters (8.2 meters) in diameter.

There are also four auxiliary telescopes with a diameter of six feet (1.8 meters).

The big telescopes are called Antu, Kueyen, Melipal and Yepun.

The Southern European Observatory (ESO) built the most powerful telescope ever made in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile and called it the Very Large Telescope (VLT).

The Southern European Observatory (ESO) built the most powerful telescope ever made in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile and called it the Very Large Telescope (VLT).

The first of the Unit Telescopes, ‘Antu’, entered into routine scientific operations on 1 April 1999.

Telescopes can work together to form a giant ‘interferometer’.

This interferometer allows filters to be filtered for any unnecessary observational objects and, as a result, astronomers can see details up to 25 times more detailed than with individual telescopes.

She has been involved in discovering the first image of an extrasolar planet, as well as tracking individual stars moving through the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way.

She also observed the offspring of the most distant known Gamma Ray Burst,


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