Hubble Telescope Captures Shimmering 'Cosmic Butterfly'

PHOTO: The shimmering colors visible in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image show off the remarkable complexity of the Twin Jet Nebula.ESA/Hubble/NASA
The shimmering colors visible in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image show off the remarkable complexity of the Twin Jet Nebula.

The cosmic butterfly, or as its known more formally, the twin jet nebula, was captured in a vibrant new image taken from the Hubble Telescope.

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The glowing colors and expanding gas seen in the image are the final gasps of life for an old star, according to NASA.

The old star shed its layers, leaving its core exposed and illuminating the layers to create a rainbow colored light show in space.

Planetary nebula have one star at the center, but the twin jet nebula is characterized as a bipolar nebula because it has two stars which help give it the wings that have led to the nickname cosmic butterfly.

While the larger star is nearing death, its companion star has already crossed over to the other side becoming a small white dwarf, essentially the corpse of a star. The butterfly-like shape is likely caused by the motion between the two stars orbiting their common center of mass, according to NASA. The gas from the larger star forms the two lobes instead of taking on a spherical appearance.

The cosmic butterfly's wings are expected to continue to spread, according to NASA's measurements. It may look pretty, but this cosmic butterfly is vicious. The growing lobes are twin jets of gas streaming into space at more than 621,400 miles per hour.

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