The Eskimo Nebula

The Eskimo Nebula (NGC 2392), is a bipolar double-shell planetary nebula. A star 9th magnitude with a pretty bright middle, nebulosity equally dispersed all around. It was discovered by astronomer William Herschel in 1787. The formation resembles a person’s head surrounded by a parka hood. It is surrounded by gas that composed the outer layers of a Sun-like star. NGC 2392 lies more than 5,000 light-years away and is visible in the constellation of Gemini.

In this Hubble telescope image, the “parka” is really a disk of material embellished with a ring of comet-shaped objects, with their tails streaming away from the central, dying star. Although this bright central region resembles a ball of twine, it is, in reality, a bubble of material being blown into space by the central star’s intense “wind” of high-speed material.

The planetary nebula began forming about 10,000 years ago, when the dying star began flinging material into space. The nebula is composed of two elliptically shaped lobes of matter streaming above and below the dying star. In this photo, one bubble lies in front of the other, obscuring part of the second lobe.

Scientists believe that a ring of dense material around the star’s equator, ejected during its red giant phase, created the nebula’s shape. This dense waist of material is plodding along at 115,000 kilometers per hour, preventing high-velocity stellar winds from pushing matter along the equator. Instead, the 1.5-million-kilometer-per-hour winds are sweeping the material above and below the star, creating the elongated bubbles. The bubbles are not smooth like balloons but have filaments of denser matter. Each bubble is about 1 light-year long and about half a light-year wide. Scientists are still puzzled about the origin of the comet-shaped features in the “parka.” One possible explanation is that these objects formed from a collision of slow- and fast-moving gases.

2 NGC2392 & Gemini

3ngc2392_hubble chandraChandra X-Ray & Hubble Images

These images combine data from two different observatories: Chandra X-ray data – purple; Hubble data – red, green, and blue. X-ray data from Chandra reveal the location of million-degree gas near the center of the planetary nebula. Hubble data show the intricate pattern of the outer layers of the star that have been ejected. The nebula’s glowing gases produce the colors in this image: nitrogen (red), hydrogen (green), oxygen (blue), and helium (violet).