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White Dwarfs & Planetary Nebulas
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Tour: Planetary Nebula: Misnamed but Not Misunderstood
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Hubble Space Telescope Image of the Planetary Nebula BD+30 3639
(Credit: NASA/J.Harrington et al.)

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(10 May 06)

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Chandra Discovers Elusive "Hot Bubble" in Planetary Nebula

Credit: NASA/RIT/J.Kastner et al.

X-ray image of the Planetary Nebula BD+30 3639. The Chandra image shows a hot bubble of 3 million degree Celsius gas surrounding a dying, Sun-like star that is about 5000 light years from Earth. The distance across the bubble is roughly 100 times the diameter of our solar system.

A planetary nebula (so called because it looks like a planet when viewed with a small telescope) is formed when a dying red giant star puffs off its outer layer, leaving behind a hot core that will eventually collapse to form a dense star called a white dwarf. According to theory, a "hot bubble" is formed when a new, two million mile per hour wind emanating from the hot core rams into the ejected atmosphere and heats the interaction region to temperatures of millions of degrees. We are seeing the nebula about a thousand years after it formed.

Fast Facts for BD+30-3639:
Credit  NASA/RIT/J.Kastner et al.
Scale  Image is 6.6 arcsec across.
Category  White Dwarfs & Planetary Nebulas
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 19h 34m 45.20s | Dec +30° 30' 59.10"
Constellation  Cygnus
Observation Dates  March 21, 2000
Observation Time  5 hours
Obs. IDs  587
Color Code  Intensity
Instrument  ACIS
Also Known As Campbell's Star
References J. Kastner et al. (AAS 196, #43.03)
Distance Estimate  5,000 light years
Release Date  June 06, 2000