Resembling a butterfly with its symmetrical structure, beautiful colors and intricate patterns, this striking bubble of gas known as NGC 2899 – floats across the sky in this new photo from ESO’s Very Large Loopscope (VLT) and Flows. Never before has this object been seen with such striking detail, even along the outer edges of the planetary nebula shining on the background stars.
NGC 2899’s giant swaths extend a maximum of two light-years from their center as the gas reaches temperatures above ten thousand degrees, glowing in front of the Milky Way’s stars. The high temperature is caused by a large amount of radiation from the parent star of the nebula, which causes hydrogen gas in the lemon, which glows in a red colored halo around the oxygen gas in blue.
Situated 3000 to 6500 light years away in the southern constellation of Vela (The Sales), the object has two central stars, which are believed to give it an almost symmetrical appearance. After one star reaches the end of its life and collapses its outer layers, the second star now interferes with the flow of gas, making it the two lobe shapes seen here. Only 10–20% of planetary nebulae exhibit this type of dipole shape.
Astronomers were able to capture this highly detailed image of NGC 2899 using the Force Instrument installed on UT1 (Antu), one of the four 8.2-meter telescopes that make up the ESO’s VLT in Chile. Standing for the Falk reducer and low dispersion spectrograph, this high-resolution instrument was one of the first to be installed on ESO’s VLT and is behind many beautiful images and discoveries from ESO. FORS has contributed to observations of light from a gravitational wave source, conducted research on the first known interstellar asteroid, and has been used to deeply study the physics behind the formation of complex planet nebulae.
The image was created under the ESO Cosmic Gems Program, an outreach initiative to produce images of interesting, intriguing or visually appealing objects using the ESO telescope for education and public outreach purposes. The program uses telescope time that cannot be used for science observations. All data collected may also be suitable for scientific purposes, and are made available to astronomers through the Science Collections of ESO.
Gemini South telescope captures exquisite planetary nebula
Quotes: Stunning Space Butterfly Captured by Telescope (2020, 30 July) Retrieved 30 July 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-07-stunning-space-butterfly-captured-telescope.html.
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