The Hubble Space Telescope got back to business this summer after an intensive repair and upgrade mission in May by a crew aboard the space shuttle. This week, an exultant NASA praised the work done by the astronauts--"Bottom line, these professionals left Hubble as a new state-of-the-art telescope," said Ed Weiler, the agency's associate administrator for space science--and released a series of photos that offer fresh and spectacular glimpses of the interstellar realm.
This image, taken by the new Wide Field Camera 3, shows the Butterfly Nebula (or Bug Nebula, cataloged as NGC 6302), at the center of which is a dying star that once had five times the mass of Earth's sun. The wings of this butterfly are actually gas heated to 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit and traveling faster than 600,000 miles per hour, NASA says. The nebula is some 3,800 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius, within the Milky Way galaxy. The outer edges of the butterfly wings arise from light emitted by nitrogen, while the white areas show light emitted by sulfur.
September 11, 2009 9:49 AM PDT
Photo by: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team
| Caption by: Jonathan Skillings
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