Astronomy Picture of the Day

M2-9: Wings of a Butterfly Nebula

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#75010 by @ 13.06.2005 00:00 - nach oben -
M2-9: Wings of a Butterfly Nebula

Are stars better appreciated for their art after they die?

Actually, stars usually create their most artistic displays as they die.
In the case of low-mass stars like our
Sun and

M2-9 pictured above, the stars transform themselves from normal stars to
white dwarfs
by casting off their outer gaseous envelopes.

The expended gas frequently forms an impressive display called a
planetary nebula that fades gradually over thousand of years.
M2-9, a butterfly
planetary nebula 2100
light-years away shown in representative colors,
has wings that tell a strange but
incomplete tale.

In the center, two stars orbit inside a
gaseous disk 10 times the orbit of Pluto.

The expelled envelope of the dying star breaks out from the
disk creating the bipolar appearance.

Much remains unknown about the physical processes that cause
planetary nebulae.

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