Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Butterfly nebula



More data acquired by Adam Block and processed by myself, this time of the Butterfly Nebula, also called the Bug Nebula, or more officially NGC 6302. It is a bipolar planetary nebula in the constellation Scorpius. According to Wikipedia,

The structure in the nebula is among the most complex ever observed in planetary nebulae. The spectrum of NGC 6302 shows that its central star is one of the hottest stars in the galaxy, with a surface temperature in excess of 200,000 K, implying that the star from which it formed must have been very large (cf. PG 1159 star).

The central star, a white dwarf, was only recently discovered (Szyszka et al. 2009), using the upgraded Wide Field Camera 3 on board the Hubble Space Telescope. The star has a current mass of around 0.64 solar masses. It is surrounded by a particularly dense equatorial disc composed of gas and dust. This dense disc is postulated to have caused the star’s outflows to form a bipolar structure (Gurzadyan 1997) similar to an hour-glass. This bipolar structure shows many interesting features seen in planetary nebulae such as ionization walls, knots and sharp edges to the lobes.

In other words, it looks like a butterfly. We already knew that. (Click on the image to take a closer look.)

Back at the ranch, poor Stella sits forlornly in the snow in her patio “observatory.” One of these days the snow will melt and I hope to gather some photons of my own. Stay tuned.

Dave, staying warm and waiting.


6 Responses to “Butterfly nebula”
  1. Linda says:

    That is beautiful! Glad you have other data you can use while Stella is taking her winter break.

  2. Dave says:

    Yes, but she has been complaining that her feet are frozen to the ground. We may get a 40 degree day tomorrow, so maybe I can get some of the snow out of her way.

  3. Larry Ayers says:

    Nice image, Dad! It must have been fun to work that one up, I imagine.

  4. Tom says:

    Very nice, Dave! Think you are getting the hang of it.

  5. Leslie says:

    Yes, beautiful!! Nice colorful butterfly image.

  6. Dave says:

    Thanks to all of you for your comments. My processing program, PixInsight, has a rather steep learning curve, and working with Adam Block’s quality data, taken with a 32-inch aperture scope, is a valuable learning experience. But I’ll be glad when the weather moderates enough to put Stella back to work.

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