This image of NGC 6302 was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.1 I obtained the image data from the Hubble Legacy Archive and processed the individual narrowband frames to produce this “mapped color” image. I used the standard Hubble pallet of SII to red, Ha to green, and OIII to blue. I also created a luminance image by combining 5 images captured through filters ranging from the near-infrared to OIII.
NGC 6302 has been call the Butterfly Nebula because of its distinctly bipolar structure resembling a delicate butterfly’s wings. NGC 6302 lies in the constellation of Scorpius and constitutes one of the most complex planetary nebulae that have been observed. The central star is hidden from view by a very dense surrounding ring of gas and dust. This ring of material is thought to be responsible for the bipolar nature of the nebula as it restricts the outflow of gas expelled by the central star. This star is considered to be one of the hottest stars in our galaxy. Its surface temperature has been determined to be in excess of 200,000 kelvin.
1Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and obtained from the Hubble Legacy Archive, which is a collaboration between the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI/NASA), the Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility (ST-ECF/ESA) and the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC/NRC/CSA).