Don’t peek at the answer until you’ve given this a good try! Then, scroll down a bit and the truth will be revealed to you.
Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, and K. Noll (STScI)
What in the world is it?
A psychedelic butterfly? Well, that’s close. What you’re seeing is a NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope image of the last gasps of a dying star, known as a planetary nebula. The once Sun-like star at the center of all this colorful gas is in its death throes and has cast off its outer layers of gas. This gas, in return, formed a cocoon around the star’s remaining core. So it really is something like a butterfly nebula. Ultraviolet light from the dying star makes the material glow. The burned-out star, called a white dwarf, is the white dot in the center. Our Sun will eventually burn out and shroud itself with stellar debris, but not for another 5 billion years.