A stunning ‘butterfly’ in space: Amazing Hubble image captures the Twin Jet Nebula
Hubble’s amazing photograph reveals the grand beauty of the dying Twin Jet Nebula in incredible detail.
The image, which is stretched out like iridescent butterfly wings, exposes the bipolar nebula’s two shimmering lobes’ amazing complexity.
These explosive cosmic clouds, despite their peaceful appearance, are star material jets flowing into space at speeds of about 620, 000mph (1 million km/h).
Several names have been given to the cosmic butterfly illustrated. It is known as the Twin Jet Nebula and also goes by the less poetic name of PN M2-9.
The glowing and expanding gas shells visible in this image represent an old star’s final stages of life.
The star has ejected not only its outer layers, but the exposed remnant core is now illuminating these layers, creating a spectacular light show.
The Twin Jet Nebula is classified as a bipolar nebula because it contains two stars with roughly the same mass as the sun at its center.
According to a video provided by Esa, “the unique shape of the Twin Jet Nebula’s wings is most likely caused by the motion of the two central stars around each other.”
“It’s thought that as the dying star and white dwarf orbit around their common center of mass, the dying star’s expelled gas gets pulled into two lobes instead of expanding as a uniform sphere.” the video added.
The nebula’s wings, which are 5,560 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus, are still growing, according to astronomers.
Astronomers believe the nebula was formed 1,200 years ago after measuring its expansion.
These are violent twin jets traveling at speeds of over 621,400 miles per hour (1 million kilometers per hour).
As the two stars at the center of the nebula circle each other every 100 years, these jets progressively change their orientation, revolving across the lobes.
The butterfly’s wings and the two jets are created by this rotation, which also permits the white dwarf to remove gas from its larger companion.
“A vast disc of material emerges around the stars, spreading out as far as 15 times Pluto’s orbit,” Esa claims. “Even though this disk is enormous in size, it is far too small to be seen in Hubble’s photograph.”