Center for Magnetic Self Organization

in Laboratory and Astrophysical Plasmas

Butterfly Nebula (NGC 6302)
Size: 3 light years across
Mass: 5 solar masses
Distance: 5,540 light years
Temperature: 200,000C (central star)
           18,000C (cloud)
Flow Speed: up to 1.3 million mph
Location: In the constellation Scorpius
Image Credit: NASA, ESA,
and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team


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The wings of this colorful butterfly are actually made of gas and plasma ejected from a dying star that was once about five times the mass of the Sun.

The white dwarf now at its center is about 34 times as hot as the Sun, one of the hottest stars known to exist!

The orange color at the edge of the butterfly wings comes from light emitted by nitrogen, while the white areas are from light emitted by sulfur.

A National Science Foundation Physics Frontier Center,
established in coordination with the Department of Energy.