The new Wide Field Camera 3 aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, took this image of hot gas fleeing a dying star 3,800 light-years away in the Scorpius constellation. A so-called planetary nebula, it is also known as the Bug Nebula or the Butterfly Nebula. What resemble dainty butterfly wings are actually roiling cauldrons of gas heated to more than 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The star itself, once about five times as massive as the Sun, is some 400,000 degrees Fahrenheit, making it one of the hottest known in the galaxy. In what amounts to a kind of galactic recycling, the lost gas, enriched by elements like oxygen, nitrogen and carbon produced by the formerly massive star, will form the stuff for future stars.
The Hubble's new Wide Field Camera 3 peered into one of the more crowded places in the universe in this view of a small region inside the globular cluster Omega Centauri, which has nearly 10 million stars. Globular clusters are ancient swarms of stars united by gravity. The stars in Omega Centauri are 10 billion to 12 billion years old. The cluster is about 16,000 light-years from Earth. The photograph showcases the new camera's color versatility by revealing a variety of stars in key stages of their life cycles.