Read aloud A new image from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals interesting details of a bizarre cloud, the planetary nebula NGC 6302. The floating ring-shaped explosion cloud surrounds an extremely hot, dying star that itself is invisible. The butterfly nebula awakens astronomers' interest because it has an unusual composition: in addition to hydrocarbons, it also contains carbonate minerals such as calcite, which can form on earth only in an aqueous environment. Their presence in space, where there is no liquid water, proves that there may be other mechanisms that can produce carbonates. In addition, ice and iron are contained in the cloud.
"This mixture of minerals and ice, hailstones and small particles of dust has aroused our interest, " says Albert Zijlstra of the University of Manchester, who wrote an article on the Butterfly Nebula. "Very few celestial bodies have such a mixed composition."
How the dense, dark ring was formed around the star remains a mystery to astronomers. They assume that the dust masses were ejected 10, 000 years ago. How long the ring can survive in the environment of 250, 000 degrees Celsius, especially in the ultraviolet light shining star can survive, is uncertain. The butterfly nebula is 4000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Scorpio.