Wings of a Butterfly Nebula 1

Stars usually create their most artistic displays as they die. Low-mass stars like our Sun and M2-9 (pictured above) Butterfly Nebula, transform themselves from normal stars to white dwarfs by casting off their outer gaseous envelopes. The expanded gas often forms an impressive display called a planetary nebula that fades gradually over thousand of years.    Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA Processing: Judy Schmidt

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.



source APOD