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NASA’s Hubble Telescope captures stellar Butterfly Nebula; Know all about NGC 2346

The Hubble Telescope, which NASA and ESA run in collaboration, recently shared a captivating image of the "last gasp" of a dying binary star system, offering insight into the formation of planetary Butterfly Nebula NGC 2346.

Updated on: Feb 23 2024, 17:40 IST
Witness the breathtaking beauty of NGC 2346, also known as the Butterfly Nebula, captured by NASA's Hubble Telescope. (NASA/ESA/Hubble)
Witness the breathtaking beauty of NGC 2346, also known as the Butterfly Nebula, captured by NASA's Hubble Telescope. (NASA/ESA/Hubble)

NASA's Hubble Telescope has once again captivated space enthusiasts with a stunning image showcasing the "last gasp" of a dying binary star system known as NGC 2346. This system, classified as a "planetary nebula," emerges from Sun-like stars that are approaching the final stages of their life cycles.

What NASA says about NGC 2346

The image, shared by NASA on Instagram offers a mesmerizing glimpse into NGC 2346, located about 2,000 light-years away in the constellation Monoceros. Planetary nebulae like this are formed when Sun-like stars reach the final stages of their life cycles and eject their outer layers into space. What makes NGC 2346 particularly fascinating is its central binary star system, where two stars orbit each other in a tight 16-day cycle.

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The evolutionary journey of the binary stars is equally intriguing. Initially, the stars were further apart, but as one star evolved into a red giant, it engulfed its companion, leading to a spiralling motion that released gas into a surrounding ring. Subsequent stellar winds inflated two enormous "bubbles," shaping the nebula into its distinctive butterfly-like appearance. Thus, it is also known as the Butterfly Nebula.

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Reactions and Admiration: Social Media Response

The image captured by the Hubble Telescope reveals the nebula's two-lobed structure expanding outward from a central pinkish region, resembling dark red and orange wings against the backdrop of space. Its striking beauty has garnered widespread admiration, amassing over 61,000 likes and sparking awe among viewers.

Comments on the post expressed appreciation for the mesmerizing imagery and the remarkable science behind it. Users marvelled at the intricacies of the cosmos and the advancements in space exploration that enable us to witness such breathtaking phenomena.

Pondering the Mysteries of Space

As NASA continues its mission to explore the mysteries of the universe, each image from the Hubble Telescope serves as a reminder of humanity's insatiable curiosity and our relentless quest to unravel the secrets of the cosmos. With each discovery, our understanding of the universe expands, deepening our appreciation for the wonders that lie beyond our planet. As we gaze upon the beauty of NGC 2346 and other celestial marvels, we are reminded of the vastness and complexity of the cosmos, fueling our curiosity to explore further into the depths of space.

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First Published Date: 23 Feb, 17:39 IST