Cat’s Eye Nebula seen in 3D

Cat's Eye nebula seen in 3D
A side-by-side comparability of the three-dimensional mannequin of the Cat’s Eye Nebula created by Clairmont and the Cat’s Eye Nebula as photographed by the Hubble Area Telescope. Credit score: Ryan Clairmont (left), NASA, ESA, HEIC, and The Hubble Heritage Staff (STScI/AURA) (proper)

Researchers have created the primary computer-generated three-dimensional mannequin of the Cat’s Eye Nebula, revealing a pair of symmetric rings encircling the nebula’s outer shell. The rings’ symmetry suggests they had been shaped by a precessing jet, offering sturdy proof for a binary star on the heart of the nebula. The research was led by Ryan Clairmont, who just lately accomplished secondary college in america, and is revealed in Month-to-month Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.


A planetary nebula types when a dying solar-mass star ejects its outer layer of gasoline, creating a colourful, shell-like construction distinctive to those objects. The Cat’s Eye Nebula, often known as NGC 6543, is without doubt one of the most complicated planetary nebulae recognized. It’s simply over 3,000 light-years away from Earth, and will be seen within the constellation Draco. The Cat’s Eye Nebula has additionally been imaged by the Hubble Area Telescope in excessive decision, revealing an intricate construction of knots, spherical shells, and arc-like filaments.

The nebula’s mysterious construction confounded astrophysicists as a result of it couldn’t be defined by beforehand accepted theories for planetary nebula formation. Newer analysis confirmed that precessing jets had been potential shaping mechanisms in complicated planetary nebulae equivalent to NGC 6543, however lacked an in depth mannequin.

Ryan Clairmont, an astronomy fanatic, determined to attempt to set up the detailed 3D construction of the Cat’s Eye to search out out extra in regards to the potential mechanism that gave it its intricate form. To do that, he sought out the assistance of Dr. Wolfgang Steffen of The Nationwide Autonomous College of Mexico and Nico Koning from the College of Calgary, who developed SHAPE, 3D astrophysical modeling software program notably appropriate for planetary nebulae.


To reconstruct the nebula’s three-dimensional construction, the researchers used spectral data from the San Pedro Martir Nationwide Observatory in Mexico. These present detailed data on the inner movement of fabric within the nebula. Along with these knowledge and pictures from the Hubble Area Telescope, Clairmont constructed a novel 3D mannequin, establishing that rings of high-density gasoline had been wrapped across the outer shell of the Cat’s Eye. Surprisingly, the rings are nearly completely symmetric to one another, suggesting they had been shaped by a jet—a stream of high-density gasoline ejected in opposite directions from the nebula’s central star.

The jet exhibited precession, just like the wobbling movement of a spinning high. Because the jet wobbled, or precessed, it outlined a circle, creating the rings across the Cat’s Eye. Nonetheless, the information signifies the rings are solely partial, which means the precessing jet by no means accomplished a full 360-degree rotation, and that the emergence of the jets was solely a short-lived phenomenon. The length of outflows is a crucial piece of data for the speculation of planetary nebulae. Since solely binary stars can energy a precessing jet in a planetary nebula, the staff’s findings are sturdy proof {that a} system of this kind exists on the heart of the Cat’s Eye.


Because the angle and course of the jet modified over time, it possible shaped the entire options seen within the Cat’s Eye, together with the jets and knots. Utilizing the three-dimensional mannequin, the researchers had been in a position to calculate the lean and opening angle of the precessing jet based mostly on the orientation of the rings.

Ryan Clairmont, the lead writer of the paper and now a potential undergraduate at Stanford College, says “After I first noticed the Cat’s Eye Nebula, I used to be astounded by its lovely, completely symmetric construction. I used to be much more stunned that its 3D construction was not absolutely understood.”


He provides, “It was very rewarding to have the ability to do astrophysical analysis of my very own that truly has an affect within the discipline. Precessing jets in planetary nebulae are comparatively uncommon, so it is essential to grasp how they contribute to the shaping of extra complicated techniques just like the Cat’s Eye. In the end, understanding how they kind offers perception into the eventual destiny of our Solar, which can itself at some point turn out to be a planetary nebula.”

Image: Hubble spies eye in the sky

Extra data:
Ryan Clairmont et al, Morphokinematic modelling of the point-symmetric Cat’s Eye, NGC 6543: Ring-like remnants of a precessing jet, Month-to-month Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2022). DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stac2375

Cat’s Eye Nebula seen in 3D (2022, September 21)
retrieved 21 September 2022

This doc is topic to copyright. Other than any honest dealing for the aim of personal research or analysis, no
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