Image Credit: Marco Lorenzi (via Glittering Lights)

Sometimes less really is more, which is this case with this region, called the Butterfly Cluster. It doesn’t need complex filaments of ionized material to be beautiful; it just is.

The open cluster, which is formally called Messier 6 or NGC 6405, lies about 2,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius (it’s one of two clusters that inhabit this constellation). Across the 20 light-years of spacetime the cluster spans, there are various hot, blue-white stars, along with one extremely bright K-type star, dubbed BM Scorpii, that appears to be tinged orange. All of them are approximately 100 million years old (pretty young, cosmologically speaking. However, at the rate at which these stars burn through their fuel supply, they are already well on their way toward middle-age territory).

Their moniker stems from the fact, that when looking at the cluster’s outline through a moderately powerful telescope, the star’s give off the appearance of a butterfly. However, just three of the 300-some stars can be made out with the naked eye.

The Wonders of Messier:


 


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