Universe Guide

Butterfly Nebula (NGC6302) Facts

Butterfly Nebula (NGC6302) Facts Planetary Nebula in Scorpius

Butterfly Nebula (NGC6302) is a planetary nebula object of interest in space. It lies at a distance of about 3,800.00 light years away in the constellation of Scorpius.

It is also referred to as NGC(6302) in the New General Catalogue. This is a list of deep space objects that was compiled by John Louis Emil Dreyer in 1888 in an update to John Herschel earlier catalogue.

The Planetary Nebula's location is 17h 13m 44.211 (R.A.) and -37d 06` 15.94 (Dec.). Its Visual (Apparent) Brightness is -3.00 Magnitude with an apparent dimension of 3.0 . The object can be seen with the naked eye from Earth, that is, you don't need a telescope/binoculars to see it.

Butterfly Nebula (NGC6302) has a radius of 2 light years or to put it another way, it has a diameter of 3 light years. It would take a space ship 3 years travelling at the speed of light to get from one side to the other.

The Butterfly nebula is the result of a supernova explosion of a dying star that is estimated at having five times the mass of our Sun. You can see why it gets its name, the gasses sprouting out from the centre look like butterfly wings. It can be confused with the Butterfly Cluster which is also in the same constellation.

The wings so to speak stretch out for a light year in both directions. To give you some sort of scale, they are half the distance between here and Rigil Kentaurus, a star better known as Alpha Centauri, our closest stellar neighbour.

Although you can't see because of the gas and clouds, there is a star at the centre and that is estimated at being 400,000 Fahrenheit. You would not be able to get anywhere near it. The stellar wings are about 36,000 Fahrenheit which is hot compared to other planetary nebulae.N.A.S.A.

Travel Time to Butterfly Nebula (NGC6302)

The time it will take to travel to this star is dependent on how fast you are going. U.G. has done some calculations as to how long it will take going at differing speeds. A note about the calculations, when I'm talking about years, I'm talking non-leap years only (365 days).

The New Horizons space probe is the fastest probe that we've sent into space at the time of writing. Its primary mission was to visit Pluto which at the time of launch (2006), Pluto was still a planet.

DescriptionSpeed (m.p.h.)Time (years)
Airbus A3807363,462,422,812.77
Speed of Sound (Mach 1)767.2693,321,316,500.73
Concorde (Mach 2)1,534.541,660,656,085.99
New Horizons Probe33,00077,222,520.92
Speed of Light670,616,629.003,800.00

Fact File

NameButterfly Nebula (NGC6302)
TypePlanetary Nebula
NGC Id6302
Right Ascension17h 13m 44.211
Declination-37d 06` 15.94
Distance (Lt.Yr)3,800
Radius (Lt.Yr)1.50
Apparent Dimension3.0
Visual / Apparent Magnitude-3.00
Naked Eye VisibleYes - Magnitudes

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