Sizzling hot image of the week: Kronberger 61

Posted by David Eicher
on Monday, July 25, 2011

This is a cool story. Rarely do amateur astronomy and big-time professional astroimaging coincide so beautifully. Today, astronomers announced new research findings on planetary nebulae at an International Astronomical Union Symposium on the subject at Tenerife in the Canary Islands. What makes this story special is that the obscure planetary nebula in question, Kronberger 61, was discovered by an amateur astronomer, Matthias Kronberger, in Austria.

Gemini Observatory/AURA
The tiny, faint nebula lies within the same field of view being studied by the Kepler Space Telescope, and following Kronberger’s discovery, professional astronomers stepped in to study the central star in this nebula (the bluish sun centered in the ring of gas) with large ground-based telescopes and with Kepler. The exact mechanisms of planetary nebula formation are still not well-understood, and this new image of the object made with the Gemini North Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, will help narrow the debate over how planetary nebulae form.

Tags: Nebulae
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