Bow before the Butterfly Nebula
In which a star dies a very beautiful death
What you see here is technically called NGC 6302... but we prefer Butterfly Nebula. This image shows a (relatively) close-up view of a dying star that is blasting its internal gases and chemicals into outer space. And that colorful dust cloud isn't all for show — it actually seeds the universe, creating a new generation of stars.
The wing-span of this gorgeous gaseous spray covers more than 3 light-years, and has a surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees Celsius. This nebula is located some 4,000 light-years away, in the Scorpion constellation.
This photo was taken in 2009 by the ever-diligent Hubble Space Telescope.