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STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Hubble Sees J 900 Masquerading as a Double Star
by Staff Writers
Baltimore MD (SPX) Apr 01, 2013


illustration only

The object in this image is Jonckheere 900 or J 900, a planetary nebula - glowing shells of ionized gas pushed out by a dying star. Discovered in the early 1900s by astronomer Robert Jonckheere, the dusty nebula is small but fairly bright, with a relatively evenly spread central region surrounded by soft wispy edges.

Despite the clarity of this Hubble image, the two objects in the picture above can be confusing for observers. J 900's nearby companion, a faint star in the constellation of Gemini, often causes problems for observers because it is so close to the nebula - when observation conditions are bad, this star seems to merge into J 900, giving it an elongated appearance. Hubble's position above the Earth's atmosphere means that this is not an issue for the space telescope.

Astronomers have also mistakenly reported observations of a double star in place of these two objects, as the planetary nebula is quite small and compact.

J 900's central star is only just visible in this image, and is very faint - fainter than the nebula's neighbor. The nebula appears to display a bipolar structure, where there are two distinct lobes of material emanating from its center, enclosed by a bright oval disk. Hubble/European Space Agency

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Related Links
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STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Hubble observes the hidden depths of Messier 77
Paris (ESA) Apr 01, 2013
Messier 77 is a galaxy in the constellation of Cetus, some 45 million light-years away from us. Also known as NGC 1068, it is one of the most famous and well-studied galaxies. It is a real star among galaxies, with more papers written about it than many other galaxies put together! Despite its current fame and striking swirling appearance, the galaxy has been a victim of mistaken identity ... read more


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