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Nebula March Madness 2019 - Round 4 (FINAL!)

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Nebula March Madness 2019 - Round 4 (FINAL!)

Olivia Wilkins

We started with 16 nebulae, and now we’re down to just two: the Eagle Nebula and the Butterfly Nebula. In the final round of Nebula March Madness, these two nebulae named for flying critters go head-to-head while those named for mammals and sea creatures watch from the sidelines. Who will win, the birds or the bugs? Vote on Twitter and decide which nebulae is the most stellar (ha.) of them all!

What is a nebula?
A nebula is a cloud of gas and dust in outer space. Nebulae vary in size and composition and can have atomic, ionized, or even molecular gas. Some nebulae consist of molecular clouds which are sometimes affectionately called stellar nurseries (if they contain star-forming regions, that is!).
Nebulae are often named for what observers think they look like, and I've selected 16 nebulae that have been named for animals. I've divided these up into those named for birds, mammals, sea creatures, and bugs, and each week we will eliminate a handful of nebulae and learn a bit more about the rest.

ROUND 4: Recap

In this tournament, I've shared stats about physical characteristics, the composition, and the discovery of various nebulae. In the final round, we'll look at these attributes for the final two contenders side-by-side.

BIRDS vs. BUGS: Eagle Nebula vs. Butterfly Nebula

Eagle Nebula (Image: ESO)

Right ascension: 18h19m
Declination: -13°49’

Distance: 7,000 lightyears
Radius: ~70 x 55 lightyears

Constellation: Serpens

Distance: 7,000 lightyears

Radius: ~65 lightyears

Type: HII (H+) region

Features: Pillars of Creation

Year discovered: 1745-1746

Discovered by: Jean-Philippe Loys de Chéseaux (Swiss astronomer)

Reported in: list presented to French Academy of Sciences

Butterfly Nebula (Image: NASA/ESA)

Right ascension: 17h14m
Declination: -37°06’

Distance: 3,400 lightyears
Radius: >1.5 lightyears

Constellation: Scorpius

Distance: 3,400 lightyears

Radius: >1.5 lightyears

Type: Bipolar planetary nebula

Features: Carbonates, crystalline water ice, quartz

Year discovered: before 1888

First studied by: Edward Emerson Barnard (American astronomer)

Reported in: New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars (NGC)

If numbers aren’t your thing, here’s a more qualitative breakdown of our two contenders:

Eagle Nebula

Further away

Bigger across

Site of active star formation

Really cool physical features

Discovered earlier

Butterfly Nebula


Smaller across

Site of aging star

Really cool chemistry

Discovered later

Which nebulae are your picks? Share in the comments, and don't forget to follow along on Twitter!

All information sourced from Wikipedia.