planetary nebulae

A Primer on Cosmic Sprinklers

by John Williams November 12, 2012

The planetary nebula Fleming 1, as seen with ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Credit: ESO/H. Boffin The neat thing about planetary nebulae is that they are like snowflakes: no two are quite the same. Some look like pools of hot water, some look like glowing eyes in the night and others, like this image of Fleming […]

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How Much Do Binary Stars Shape Planetary Nebulae?

by Jon Voisey June 15, 2011

  Planetary nebulae come in a dazzling array of shapes, from spherical shells of gas, to blobby structures barely containing symmetry at all. Controversy has surrounded the cause for this diversity. Could it be magnetic fields, high rotation rates, unseen companions, or something else entirely? Recently, there has been a growing consensus that binary companions […]

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A Newly Discovered Planetary Nebula Teaches Us About Galactic Composition

by Jon Voisey May 6, 2011

Determining the chemical distribution of the galaxy is a tricky business. The ideal method is spectroscopy but since high quality spectroscopy takes bright targets, the number of potential targets is somewhat reduced. Stars seem like logical choices, but due to differential separation during formation, they don’t provide a true description of the interstellar medium. Clouds […]

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Hubble Spies an Amazing Cosmic Spiral

by Nancy Atkinson September 6, 2010

The Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys has captured a remarkable image of a spiral in space. No, not a spiral galaxy, (and not another Norway Spiral!) but the formation of an unusual pre-planetary nebula in one of the most perfect geometrical spirals ever seen. The nebula, called IRAS 23166+1655, is forming around the […]

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