Science and Tech Features
10 Incredible Hubble Telescope Images - And the Science Behind Them

CJ Miozzi | 5 Mar 2014 17:00
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butterfly

Our next stop on this tour is one of the hottest stars in the galaxy and its surrounding Butterfly Nebula. While similar to the Celestial Snow Angel, this nebula's structure is one of the most complex ever observed. The central star, a white dwarf, is obscured from our view by a dense, doughnut-shaped ring of dust that forced the material spewing out of the star into an hourglass shape.

The butterfly's wings consist of superheated gas expelled from the star in phases as the star evolved throughout its life and cast off its outer layers. The projections pointing back toward the star may represent denser material that was more resistant to the stellar wind - not unlike the Pillars of Creation.

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