As of recently, the Hubble telescope captured fading stars that created a so-called “cosmic butterfly.” The butterfly shape took form through the collision or “the harmonious dance” of the two fading stars similar to the Sun. Thus, their interaction is the consequence creating the butterfly-shaped nebula.
One of the two dying stars, the primary one, will become a white dwarf, whereas the second star is already a white dwarf. A white dwarf cannot sustain nuclear fusion anymore. Moreover, these particular stars are really dense, marking the final evolutionary stage of a Sun-like star.
The first star which has not yet turned into a white dwarf is a red giant with a bigger mass than that of the Sun. The second star, which can already be referred to as a white dwarf, has been slowly cooling. The latter star’s mass is lighter than the primary star’s but still approximately 1.0 times bigger than that of the Sun.
The colorful and brilliant lighting effect of the collision, stretching like iridescent lobes, is due to one of the star’s gravity, which is attracting material from the other star. A twin pair of colorful gaseous jets was created, whereas the core of the stars is the main attraction, shining brightly.
According to scientists, the nebula was created 1200 years ago, since the “wings” of the cosmic butterfly are in continuous growth. In a nutshell, a planetary nebula represents, essentially, an expansion of gaseous shells.
The bright, rainbow-like lobe colors are the result of the shells heating up, while the chemicals involved are ionized. Moreover, the chromatic palette includes nuances of blue, orange, green and almost every color specific to a rainbow.
The planetary nebula has been dubbed PN M2-9, and its planetary nebula lobes are characterized by blue streaks expanding horizontally, but rather difficultly identified due to the nebula’s kaleidoscope of colors.
The cosmic butterfly had been previously identified in 1997, but Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph the latest version of the nebula was identified.
It was indeed named “planetary nebula”, despite the fact that no planets were involved, but stars. In the 1780s the nebula was dubbed that way, as the stars actually looked like planets via the telescopes available then.
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