Hubble telescope captures death throes of a nebula

13 Oct 2014

The Hubble Space Telescope. Image via NASA

In space, destruction can often be as beautiful as many of the other wonders in the universe, none more so than a new image of the death of a nebula captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The nebula classified as NGC 6302, or more commonly the Bug or Butterfly nebula, is situated approximately 3,800 light years from Earth within the realm of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

According to the European Space Agency (ESA) who captured the photo through Earth’s orbiting telescope, the nebula was formed when a star around five times the mass of our sun became a red giant and ejected its outer layers becoming intensely hot.

Because of its particular form, this is classified as a bipolar nebula because fast-moving gas was able to escape from the star’s poles rather than its equator causing the distinctive shape.

The stunning colours of the nebula’s make up indicate that the red areas comprise of nitrogen, while the white represents the much higher-temperate sulphur emitted from the star’s core, while other colours are representative of oxygen, helium and hydrogen.

Image via ESA

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic