NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 16 April 2023: RARE nebula in butterfly avatar

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day for 16th April shows a unique Butterfly Nebula which is 2100 light years away from Earth.

| Updated on: Apr 16 2023, 13:44 IST
Best NASA Astronomy Pictures of the Week: Polaris, Running Chicken Nebula and more
Running Chicken nebula
1/5 Running Chicken Nebula (April 10) - It is a snapshot of IC 2944, also known as the Running Chicken Nebula. According to NASA, it is located about 6,000 light years away towards the constellation of the Centaur and spans almost 100 light-years across. The nebula's strange nickname, Running Chicken, comes from the chicken-like shape of its brightest region, which resembles a running bird. (NASA/Daniel Stern)
North star
2/5 Polaris, the North Star (April 11) - It is a fascinating image of Polaris and the dust that surrounds it. Although there are 200 billion trillion stars in the sky, Polaris is particularly special because it can help orient yourself as it is located in the direction of the true north. It is also known as the North Star or Pole Star and is present in the constellation of Ursa Minor. (NASA/Javier Zayaz)
Andromeda Galaxy
3/5 Star cloud in the Andromeda Galaxy (April 12) - This captured image shows the star cloud NGC 206 in the Andromeda Galaxy. It is the brightest star cloud in the galaxy as seen from Earth. Also known as Messier 31, it is a spiral galaxy located approximately 2.5 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation Andromeda. According to NASA, the Andromeda Galaxy is twice the size of our own Milky Way galaxy, spanning across nearly 260,000 light-years and containing over 1 trillion stars. (NASA/Howard Trottier)
NASA globular star cluster
4/5 Globular star cluster NGC 2419 (April 13) - It is the globular star cluster NGC 2419. It is a multi-generational star cluster located about 300,000 light-years away towards the constellation of Lynx. According to NASA, the stars populating globular clusters are very similar because they formed at roughly the same time and because of this, they tend to display similar properties. (NASA/ESA/Hubble)
Spiral Galaxy
5/5 Fascinating Hamburger Galaxy (April 14) - It is a fascinating snapshot of NGC 3628, also known as the Hamburger Galaxy. It is a spiral galaxy located about 35 million light-years away towards the constellation of Leo and spans about 100,000 light-years. According to NASA, NGC 3628 shares its neighborhood in the local Universe with two other large spirals M65 and M66 in a grouping otherwise known as the Leo Triplet. (NASA/Mike Selby/Mark Hanson)
Butterfly Nebula
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How does this butterfly nebula get its shape? NASA experts explain. ( Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA)

Do stars tend to display their most artistic avatars during their demise? It seems so! A nebula is basically an enormous cloud formed due to the gas and dust thrown out by the explosion of a dying star. While some nebulae are the regions where new stars are beginning to form, they basically work as a womb that births stars! In every case, these nebulae emerge as artistic wonders.

Today, NASA has featured just such a breathtaking image of M2-9 nebula which looks like the wings of a butterfly. NASA says, "In the case of low-mass stars like our Sun and M2-9 pictured here, the stars transform themselves from normal stars to white dwarfs by casting off their outer gaseous envelopes." A stunning exhibition known as a planetary nebula is often produced by the expended gas, which gradually fades away over a period of thousands of years.

More about M2-9 Butterfly Nebula

M2-9 or a butterfly planetary nebula is around 2100 light-years away from Earth. NASA says that it has wings that tell a strange but incomplete tale. At the heart of the nebula, two stars revolve within a gaseous disk that is 10 times larger than Pluto's orbit, the space agency informed. The ejection of the dying star's envelope from the disk leads to the formation of a bipolar appearance, which looks like butterfly wings. Despite this, much remains unknown about the physical processes that cause and shape this planetary nebula.

Tech for capturing Nebula images

To capture images of distant nebulae, astronomers rely on highly advanced telescopes. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope are examples of space telescopes that have successfully captured numerous pictures of faraway nebulae. This butterfly nebula has also been captured by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

Did you know?

The nearest known nebula to Earth is the Helix Nebula which is believed to be the remnant of a star similar to the Sun and is located approximately 700 light-years away. That means even if you manage to travel at the speed of light, it will still take 700 years to reach the Helix Nebula!

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First Published Date: 16 Apr, 13:43 IST
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