Astronomy:Stingray Nebula

From HandWiki
Stingray Nebula
Emission nebula
Planetary nebula
Hubble Space Telescope photograph of the nebula (Credit: M. Bobrowsky and NASA)
Observation data: J2000 epoch
Right ascension 17h 16m 21.071s[1]
Declination−59° 29′ 23.64″[1]
Distance18 kly (5.6 kpc)[2] ly
Apparent magnitude (V)10.75[1]
Apparent dimensions (V)1″.6[2]
Physical characteristics
Radius0.08 ly[2] ly
Absolute magnitude (V)-3.0[a]
DesignationsPN G331.3-12.1,[1]
Hen 3-1357[1]
See also: Lists of nebulae

The Stingray Nebula (Hen 3-1357) is the youngest known planetary nebula (PN). (Bobrowsky 1994) The Stingray is located in the direction of the southern constellation Ara (the Altar), and is located 18,000 light-years away. Although it is some 130 times the size of the Solar System, the Stingray Nebula is only about 1/10 the size of most other known planetary nebulae. Until approximately forty years ago, it was observed on Earth as a protoplanetary nebula in which the gas had not yet become hot and ionized. In a Nature article, Bobrowsky et al.[3] described how the Hubble observations revealed a 17th-magnitude companion to the Stingray's 15th-magnitude central star. The image of the Stingray Nebula shown here shows how the outer shells of gas are collimating the continuing outflow of gas from the central star—an important observation, as the process of how these outflows become collimated has not been well understood.


Prior to the discovery of the nebula, the central star of the Stingray Nebula was known as He3-1357, which Karl Gordon Henize classified as an A or B type emission line star in 1967. It was observed in 1971 to be a pre-planetary nebula (PPNe) when it seemed to be an asymptotic giant branch (AGB) B1 supergiant. Planetary nebula (PN) emission lines were identified in this star in 1989 by the IUE (Parthasarathy et al. 1993).[4] As the nebula would be newly formed and very small, ground-based observations were not able to resolve it; so Bobrowsky[2] observed it with the Hubble Space Telescope, discovering the nebula, which he named the "Stingray Nebula."

Planetary nebula nucleus (PNN)

In 1995 the central planetary nebula nucleus (PNN) was observed as a DA white dwarf, having seemingly faded by a factor of three between 1987 and 1995. The PNN has an estimated mass of 0.6 M, and has an observed companion star separated by 0.3 arcsec. Nebula mass is estimated as 0.015 M.

Luminosity is estimated to be 3000 L. (Parthasarathy 2000)

The central star is unusual in that it has brightened and faded over a period of 20 years. Its temperature went up by 40,000°C An explanation for this is that it has undergone a helium flash.[5]



  1. ^ 10.75 apparent magnitude - 5 * (log10(5.6 kpc distance) - 1) = -3.0 absolute magnitude


External links