At 3800 light-years away from Earth, a former star five times more massive than the Sun exploded. It used to own its place in the Scorpius constellation. Now, she is spreading her butterfly wings nebula called NGC 6302. It is a bipolar planetary nebula. Planetary nebulae are the remnants of the final stages of stellar evolution for lower-mass stars.
It is quite impressing the way stars die. And deadly beautiful, because the astonishing phenomenon caught in the picture by the Hubble Space Telescope is a display of ultraviolet radiation.
Stars die from time to time. They remain out of energy, and at some point, they refuse to be fading stars. So, they collect whatever fuel they’ve got left and dramatically burst, leaving behind a curtain of gases, dust, and all sort of other debris that glows. Yes, they glow. It must be breathtaking to watch those gigantic wings — both literally and metaphorically.
This supernova looks like a butterfly
In the middle of the wings lies the former star, now a white dwarf. It is is one of the hottest stars known, with a surface temperature increased at 400,000 degrees Fahrenheit. With its hot stellar winds, a stream of charged particles traveling at more than 2 million miles an hour, the star began carving through the gas glowing wings.
The appearance of the wing-like structures has been modified. They look like toned wings — a real drama, which is to be expected from such an ex-hottie.
A nebula is an interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium, and other ionized gases. They can be enormous as some are hundreds of light-years in diameter. Nebulae are far less dense than any vacuum created on Earth. A nebular cloud, the size of the Earth would have a total mass of only a few kilograms. So, NGC6302 doesn’t just seem frail. It is frail.