Listen to the sound of Butterfly Nebula

Sonification of the Butterfly nebula.


Also known as NGC 6302, the Butterfly nebula is a bipolar planetary nebula between 2,500 and 3,800 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius. It has a complex structure. 

The central star within the nebulae is the hottest one of the hottest stars known. The “wings” of the butterfly are regions of gas heated to more than 36,000° F (about 20,000° C). The wings of the nebula are tearing across space at more than 600,000 miles an hour (966,000 kph)!

Recently, NASA shared the sound of Butterfly Nebula created through data sonification as it soars across space at more than 600,000 mph (966,000 kph).

Data sonification is a translation of data into sound. A different family of instruments was paired with each wavelength of light to create a ‘symphony of soothing sounds.’ The ‘wings’ of the nebula are identified by strings and synthetic tones, while a digital harp represents stars.

NASA noted, “The nebula is played on strings and synthetic tones, while stars are represented by digital harp. Brightness controls the volume, and the tilted hourglass orientation of the nebula produces an overall rising motion, with the prominent iron-rich jet producing a quick rise near the center.”

The spectacular image NASA shared was taken by its Hubble Space Telescope.

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