Newly Discovered Planetary Nebula Resembles Erie Blue Soccer Ball

Posted on July 26, 2011

Kronberger 61 Planetary Nebula

The Gemini Observatory captured this image of Kronberger 61, a planetary nebula. Planetary nebula are not planets, despite the word "planetary" being part of the name. They are formed in the final stages of the life of a star and consist of ionized gas emitted by the dying star. Kronberg 61's nebula resembles an erie blue soccer ball. The Gemini Observatory says the light of the nebula is primarily due to emission from twice-ionized oxygen. The central star is the slightly bluer star very close to the center of the nebula.

Kronberger 61 was named after its discoverer. Austrian amateur astronomer Matthias Kronberge, a member of the amateur astronomy group Deep Sky Hunters, discovered the planetary nebula. It was a rare find.

Orsola De Marco, associate professor of at Macquarie University in Sydney, says, "Explaining the puffs left behind when medium sized stars like our Sun expel their last-breaths is a source of heated debate among astronomers, especially the part that companions might play, it literally keeps us up at night!"

Photo: Gemini Observatory/AURA

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