The rare Butterfly Nebula is 200 times hotter than the Sun and holds an amazing secret

A RARE Butterfly Nebula about 200 times hotter than the Sun has puzzled scientists.

Deep in the constellation of Scorpio, the nebula hides a glimpse of our Sun’s ultimate fate.

Black-and-white images of the Butterfly Nebula helped scientists discover parts of it were moving uncharacteristically

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Black-and-white images of the Butterfly Nebula helped scientists discover parts of it were moving uncharacteristicallyCredit: Lars Borchert and Bruce Balick/University of Washington

Known to scientists as NGC 6302, the nebula is a massive splatter of glowing gas about 4,000 light-years from Earth.

The winged mist may appear angelic, but its very existence is chaos.

The Butterfly Nebula actually paints scientists a picture of what will happen to our Sun when it eventually runs out of fuel and dies.

Just relax. The sun is not expected to fizzle out in the next 10 billion years.

The wings of the nebula are the remnants of the star’s outer layers of gas, now surrounding a collapsed white dwarf.

But something is wrong with the rare nebula, according to new research from Washington University in the US.

After examining two images of the Butterfly Nebula taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009 and 2020, scientists found that the wings have changed over the decade.

Black-and-white images made it clear to the scientists when different features had shifted from black regions to white ones over time.

Scientists are amazed at how the nebula can continue to transform even when it runs out of helium fuel.

“The Butterfly Nebula is extreme for the mass, velocity and complexity of its ejections from its host star, which is more than 200 times hotter in temperature than the Sun but only slightly larger than Earth,” said Bruce Balick, professor emeritus of astronomy, who led the research of the university.

“I’ve been comparing Hubble images for years and have never seen anything quite like it.”

Borchert found around six “jets” – beginning about 2,300 years ago and ending 900 years ago – that pushed out material in a series of asymmetric outflows.

The team suspects this is why the nebula has changed over the 11 years.

“As of this writing, these are all just hypotheses,” Balick added.

“This shows us that we do not fully understand the full range of shaping processes involved in the formation of planetary nebulae.

“The next step is to image the center of the nebula with the James Webb Space Telescope, since infrared light from the star can penetrate through the dust.

“It’s a creation story that happens over and over again in our universe.”

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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/10062859/rare-butterfly-nebula-hotter-than-the-sun-secret/ The rare Butterfly Nebula is 200 times hotter than the Sun and holds an amazing secret

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