Hubble snaps cosmic butterfly 4000 light years away from Earth
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured this spectacular view of the Twin Jet Nebula - a cosmic butterfly that lies 4000 light years away from Earth.
While ordinary planetary nebulae have one star at their center, bipolar nebulae have two, in a binary star system.
The glowing and expanding shells of gas clearly visible in this image represent the final stages of life for an old star. The nebula's iridescent lobes of material are stretching outwards from a central star system. Within these lobes, two huge jets of gas are streaming from the star system at speeds in excess of one million kilometers (621,400 miles) per hour.
The shape of Twin Jet Nebula's wings is most likely caused by the motion of the two central stars around each other. It is believed that as the dying star and white dwarf orbit around their common center of mass, the ejected gas from the dying star is pulled into two lobes rather than expanding as a uniform sphere.
Astronomers have calculated that the nebula was created only 1,200 years ago and its wings are still growing.
According to NASA, bipolar planetary nebulae are formed when the central object is not a single star, but a binary system. The two stars at the heart of the Twin Jet Nebula circle one another roughly every 100 years. This rotation not only creates the wings of the butterfly and the two jets, it also allows the white dwarf to strip gas from its larger companion, which then forms a large disc of material around the stars, extending out as far as 15 times the orbit of Pluto! Even though this disk is of incredible size, it is much too small to be seen in this Hubble image.
This #HubbleTopImage is of the Twin Jet Nebula: a bipolar planetary nebula. Studies suggest that the stellar outburst that formed the lobes occurred just 1200 years ago.Read more: https://t.co/u2PD35Z8Fl 📷 @esa / @HUBBLE_space & @NASA Acknowledgement: J. Schmidt pic.twitter.com/7tu4P0RvU0— HUBBLE (@HUBBLE_space) November 17, 2022