This massive cosmic butterfly is pure galactic eye candy


Mike Wehner

  • Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory have captured the most detailed images yet of a planetary nebula that looks like a brightly colored butterfly.
  • The impressive shape is made of gasses in space, surrounding a pair of stars.
  • Scientists believe one of the stars recently blew its top, sending gasses flying and creating the unique symmetrical pattern.

Celestial objects come in all shapes and sizes, and most are a real treat to look at. Still, some are more breathtaking than others, and the massive blob of gas known to astronomers at NGC 2899 is in a class of its very own. The massive bubble is in the shape of a butterfly with its wings spread, and scientists as the European Southern Observatory just snapped the most detailed image of it to date.

The European Southern Observatory (ESO for short) says the object is somewhere between 3,000 and 6,500 light-years from Earth. A pair of stars sits near its center, and as one of them died it blasted surrounding gasses into space. The other star acted upon the gas as it was pushed away, and the result is a nearly symmetrical shape.

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This massive cosmic butterfly is pure galactic eye candy originally appeared on on Fri, 31 Jul 2020 at 21:09:10 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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