Dissecting the Anatomy of Planetary Nebulae Using the Hubble Space Telescope

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Jewel Bug Nebula Comparison

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On the left is a picture of the Jewel Bug Nebula (NGC 7027) recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2019 and launched in 2020. Further analysis by scientists produced the RGB image on the right, which reveals termination due to dust, as presumed from the relative strength of 2 hydrogen emission lines, as red; emission from sulfur, relative to hydrogen, as green; and emission from iron as blue. Credit: STScI, Alyssa Pagan

Images of 2 renowned planetary nebulae taken by the Hubble Space Telescope are exposing brand-new details about how they establish their remarkable functions. Researchers from Rochester Institute of Technology and Green Bank Observatory provided brand-new findings about the Butterfly Nebula (NGC 6302) and the Jewel Bug Nebula (NGC 7027) at the 237th conference of the American Astronomical Society on Friday, January 15, 2021.

Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 observed the nebulae in 2019 and early 2020 utilizing its complete, panchromatic abilities, and the astronomers associated with the job have actually been utilizing emission line images from near-ultraviolet to near-infrared light to find out more about their homes. The research studies were first-of-their-kind panchromatic imaging studies developed to comprehend the development procedure and test designs of binary-star-driven planetary nebula shaping.

“We’re dissecting them,” stated Joel Kastner, a teacher in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and School of Physics and Astronomy. “We’re able to see the effect of the dying central star in how it’s shedding and shredding its ejected material. We’re now seeing where material that the central star has tossed away is being dominated by ionized gas, where it’s dominated by cooler dust, and even how the hot gas is being ionized, whether by the star’s UV or by collisions caused by its present, fast winds.”

Butterfly Nebula NGC 6302

On top is a picture of the Butterfly Nebula (NGC 6302) recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2019 and launched in 2020. Further analysis by scientists produced the RGB image on the bottom, which reveals termination due to dust, as presumed from the relative strength of 2 hydrogen emission lines, as red; emission from nitrogen, relative to hydrogen, as green; and emission from iron as blue. Credit: STScI, APOD/J. Schmidt; J. Kastner (RIT) et al.

Kastner stated analysis of the brand-new HST pictures of the Butterfly Nebula is validating that the nebula was ejected just about 2,000 years back—an eyeblink by the requirements of astronomy – and developed that the S-shaped iron emission that assists provide it the “wings” of gas is even more youthful. Surprisingly, they discovered that while astronomers formerly thought they had actually found the nebula’s main star, that previously-identified star is really not related to the nebula and is rather much closer to Earth than the Butterfly Nebula. Kastner stated he hopes that future research studies with the James Webb Space Telescope might assist find the genuine passing away star at the heart of the nebula.

The group’s continuous analysis of the Jewel Bug Nebula is developed on a 25-year standard of measurements going back to early Hubble imaging. Paula Moraga Baez, an astrophysical sciences and innovation Ph.D. trainee from DeKalb, Ill., called the nebula “remarkable for its unusual juxtaposition of circularly symmetric, axisymmetric, and point-symmetric (bipolar) structures.” Moraga kept in mind, “The nebula also retains large masses of molecular gas and dust despite harboring a hot central star and displaying high excitation states.”

NGC 7027 Map

The RGB image on the best exposes the spatial separation of particles CO+ (red) and HCO+ (blue), a sign of UV and X-ray procedures, respectively. The much deeper optical picture of [O III] (green) supplies a juxtaposition of the ionized atomic structure which of radio molecular observations. Credit: STScI, Alyssa Pagan; J. Bublitz (NRAO/GBO) et al.

Jesse Bublitz ’20 Ph.D. (astrophysical sciences and innovation), now a postdoctoral scientist at Green Bank Observatory, has actually extended the group’s analysis of NGC 7027 with radio images from the Northern Extended Millimeter Array (NOEMA) Telescope, from which he has actually recognized molecular tracers of how impinging ultraviolet and X-ray light continues to change the chemistry of the nebula. The combined observations from telescopes at other wavelengths, like Hubble, and brilliant particles CO+ and HCO+ from NOEMA suggest how various areas of NGC 7027 are impacted by the high-energy radiation from its main star.

“We’re very excited about these findings,” stated Bublitz. “We had hoped to find structure that clearly showed CO+ and HCO+ spatially coincident or entirely in distinctive regions, which we did. This is the first map of NGC 7027, or any planetary nebula, in the molecule CO+, and only the second CO+ map of any astronomical source.”

Meeting: 237th conference of the American Astronomical Society

In addition to Kastner, Moraga, and Bublitz, the research study group associated with the HST imaging work consists of Rodolfo Montez Jr. ’10 Ph.D. (astrophysical sciences and innovation) from Harvard-Smithsonian CfA; Bruce Balick from University of Washington; along with Adam Frank and Eric Blackman from University of Rochester. Bublitz’s worldwide group of partners on radio molecular line imaging of NGC 7027 consists of Kastner, Montez Jr., and astrophysicists from Spain, France, and Brazil.



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