Stunning new image of ‘Butterfly’ nebula released by NASA

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – NASA has released the clearest picture yet of the “Butterfly” nebula from images collected by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The nebula, a place in the universe where star formation is occurring, gets its name from the shape of the wispy bands of gas seen in the images taken of it.

Officially known as N159, the nebula is 163,000 light years away from Earth so the images we are seeing today actually occurred 163,000 years ago. That’s how long it took for the light to reach our planet from the nebula.

Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), the nebula is a place where the birth of stars gives off intense ultra-violet radiation. The image shows a large area of blue and white gases blowing through space.

Blue and white are the colors associated with more intense energy in the images, much like a blue flame on a stove is much, much hotter than the orange flame of a match. N159 is massive, spanning 150 light years across and is home to possibly thousands upon thousands of stars being born.

The newest image was captured by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and shows that even after twenty six years, there is more to learn and see from the most successful space telescope launched. Click here for the full-sized image.

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The ‘Butterfly’ Nebula courtesy: ESA/Hubble & NASA