APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

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APOD Robot
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APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by APOD Robot » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:05 am

Image NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula

Explanation: The bright clusters and nebulae of planet Earth's night sky are often named for flowers or insects. Though its wingspan covers over 3 light-years, NGC 6302 is no exception. With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees C, the dying central star of this particular planetary nebula has become exceptionally hot, shining brightly in ultraviolet light but hidden from direct view by a dense torus of dust. This sharp and colorful close-up of the dying star's nebula was recorded in 2009 by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3, installed during the final shuttle servicing mission. Cutting across a bright cavity of ionized gas, the dust torus surrounding the central star is near the center of this view, almost edge-on to the line-of-sight. Molecular hydrogen has been detected in the hot star's dusty cosmic shroud. NGC 6302 lies about 4,000 light-years away in the arachnologically correct constellation of the Scorpion (Scorpius).

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Bay Area John

Re: APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by Bay Area John » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:11 am

I'm curious why it's called "ionized gas" when it's thousands (sometimes "millions") of degrees and glowing. Isn't that "plasma"?

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Re: APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by alter-ego » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:27 am

Bay Area John wrote:I'm curious why it's called "ionized gas" when it's thousands (sometimes "millions") of degrees and glowing. Isn't that "plasma"?
Ionized gas and plasma are the same thing. The glow is a result of recombination.

Edit: The present-day cosmic microwave background is the red-shifted result of a plasma recombination from which the first neutral hydrogen atoms were formed after the Big Bang.
Last edited by alter-ego on Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by FLPhotoCatcher » Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:05 am

Could scientists figure out how bright the central star is, based on the nebula?

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Re: APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by alter-ego » Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:41 am

FLPhotoCatcher wrote:Could scientists figure out how bright the central star is, based on the nebula?
As pointed out here, the nebula emission characteristics identified the central star as necessarily being one of the hottest known. Recent imaging of the star has helped identify further central-star characteristics, including luminosity after extinction estimates derived from Hubble pictures using different filters. However as stated, given the observables, the luminosity and temperature remain uncertain.
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Re: APOD: NGC 6903: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by moontrail » Fri Jun 07, 2013 8:46 am

The bright clusters and nebulae of planet ...

....so bright, that in the best cases are almost if not totally invisible to the unaided eye even using a telescope.

Ted Walster

Re: APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by Ted Walster » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:09 pm

Could someone explain just where all this dust comes from? It looks like God spilled one of his dust cans by mistake while building that patch of the universe.

Why is all that dust in one general area when we have light years of empty space all over.

Please explain sometime

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Re: APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by rstevenson » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:21 pm

Ted Walster wrote:Could someone explain just where all this dust comes from?
Dust comes from stars! When an earlier generation star explodes at the end of its life, some of the products of its nuclear burning, having been blown out away from the remnant star, will clump together forming dust. That dust, plus a whole lot of leftover hydrogen and helium, becomes a part of the raw material for the next generation of stars and their planetary systems.
Ted Walster wrote:Why is all that dust in one general area when we have light years of empty space all over.
In a word, gravity. Or rather two words, gravity and turbulence. Gas and dust gets blown around by radiation from other nearby stars, and gets pulled on by gravity from those stars too. This causes the gas and dust to begin to form regions of higher density. When the density gets high enough, the gas and dust will start to fall in on itself under the influence of its own gravity. If there's enough of it in one area, a new stellar system will form.

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Re: APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by starsurfer » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:56 pm

They've written NGC 6902 instead of NGC 6302 by mistake. NGC 6902 is a very nice spiral galaxy in Sagittarius!

Also I'm wondering if the dusty central torus contains any organic molecules like PAH's or if PAH's have been found in other planetary nebulae?

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Re: APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by owlice » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:01 pm

Yes, and the fix is in, but apparently hasn't shown up yet.
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Re: APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by Lordcat Darkstar » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:20 pm

Yay I get to be the first to say it!!! Fly on Mothra!! :mrgreen: Congratz on another great apod. :clap: If your butterfly quota hasnNt been filled by this nebula hop a short way over to M6, the Butterfly Cluster! One of my personal favorites 8-)

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Re: APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by pedro melo » Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:11 pm

What causes the dust pillars in a planetary nebula? Objects that were orbiting the dying star?

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Ann
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Re: APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by Ann » Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:18 pm

alter-ego wrote:
FLPhotoCatcher wrote:Could scientists figure out how bright the central star is, based on the nebula?
As pointed out here, the nebula emission characteristics identified the central star as necessarily being one of the hottest known. Recent imaging of the star has helped identify further central-star characteristics, including luminosity after extinction estimates derived from Hubble pictures using different filters. However as stated, given the observables, the luminosity and temperature remain uncertain.
Thanks for that link, alter-ego! Very interesting.

There is something ever so slightly similar about the Butterfly Nebula and the Homunculus Nebula surrounding Eta Carina.

Ann
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Re: APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by stephen63 » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:32 pm

Ann wrote:
There is something ever so slightly similar about the Butterfly Nebula and the Homunculus Nebula surrounding Eta Carina.

Ann
Except that Eta Carina is going to go boom! It definitely looks hotter and more ticked off.
It would be pretty neat if we had a supernova in our own galaxy(but not in our own back yard) to look at.

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Re: APOD: NGC 6302: The Butterfly Nebula (2013 Jun 07)

Post by ta152h0 » Fri Jun 07, 2013 8:34 pm

and for your final exam, write down the force diagram of this machine. Sure looks like the Eta Carinae system. Going " boom " could take 13.8 billions years and still go strong
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