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A VLT telescope has made the most beautiful photo of "cosmic butterflies"

The very large telescope (VLT) the European southern Observatory (EO) in Chile received a new image of the gas of the nebula NGC 2899, symmetry, color, and complex internal structure resembling fluttering in the night sky multi-colored butterfly. This was reported on the official website EO.

This planetary nebula has never been photographed in such minute detail — even visible through translucent background star field its weak outer edges.

NGC 2899 is located at a distance of from 3000 to 6500 light years away in the southern constellation of Sails. It is believed that it is almost a perfect symmetrical structure associated with the presence of two Central stars, one of which completed its evolution got thrown into the surrounding space of the outer shell. The second star now interacts with these streams of gas, forming a visible in a photo of a dual structure. Only about 10-20 per cent of planetary nebulae have a bipolar shape.

Extensive gas shell NGC 2899 shattered from its centre to a distance of two light years. Gas in it is heated to a temperature about ten thousand degrees and nebula glows brightly against the background stars of the milky Way.

High temperature gas due to the powerful radiation of the parent star that produced this nebula: hydrogen, which mainly consists of gas shell, and as a result glows with a reddish light, and oxygen gas layer blue.

Astronomers were able to image NGC 2899 with so many details thanks to the use of FORS receiver that is installed on UT1, one of the four main 8.2-metre telescopes of the ESO VLT complex in Chile. This has a high resolution instrument, whose name stands for "focal reducer and low dispersion spectrograph" (FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph), was one of the first set of hinged equipment the ESO VLT.

With it, you have received many beautiful images and made many discoveries. FORS has contributed to the optical observations of gravitational wave sources, he studied first open interstellar asteroid It is also used for in-depth study of the formation of planetary nebulae complex structure.

The obtained in the framework of the program "Space treasures ESO" (ESO Cosmic Gems) — raising initiatives, consisting in photographing telescope at the ESO education and public awareness purposes interesting, intriguing, or just beautiful objects. The program runs in a time when telescopes due to various reasons can not engage in scientific observation. However, all data obtained in the framework of the program, can be used in research purposes and available to astronomers through ESO Science archive.

By the way, despite their name, planetary nebulae have nothing to the planets. The first astronomers who observed these objects, I just wanted to say that visually they resemble planetary disks. These nebulae are formed when old stars with masses of up to six solar at the end of its evolution, is compressed and discharged into the space of the expanding gas shell, rich in heavy elements.

Intense ultraviolet radiation of the parent star excites and illuminates these expanding shells, causing them to glow brightly for several thousand years until, until they eventually, gradually dissipates in space. Thus, in the astronomical time scale of a planetary nebula is a relatively short-lived education.