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See the 'space butterfly' astronomers captured from thousands of light years away

August 2, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

This highly detailed image of the fantastic NGC 2899 planetary nebula was captured using the FORS instrument on ESO???s Very Large Telescope in northern Chile. This object has never before been imaged in such striking detail, with even the faint outer edges of the planetary nebula glowing over the background stars.

The European Space Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile recently captured a vibrant image of a planetary nebula resembling a "butterfly."

(CNN)Thousands of light years away, there's a "space butterfly" colored with brilliant blues and clouds of purple and red.

So named for its resemblance to the winged insect, the "butterfly" is actually a planetary nebula -- a giant cloud of gas that forms around an ancient star that hasn't yet exploded.

The European Space Observatory's (ESO) aptly named Very Large Telescope, stationed in host country Chile, recently captured a vibrant image of the interstellar object.

It's located somewhere between 3,000 and 6,500 light years away from Earth in the constellation Vela, which is visible in the Southern Hemisphere.

Ultraviolet radiation lights up the shells of gas surrounding the star and causes them to shine quite brightly, the ESO said -- but only for a few thousand years before they break up.

The Very Large Telescope that captured the image is the "world's most advanced optical instrument," according to the ESO.

With the accompanying interferometer, the tool can illuminate details 25 times finer than individual telescopes.

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