Eight-burst nebula

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Eight-burst nebula
NGC 3132.jpg
Observational Data
Designation NGC 3132
PN G272.1+12.3
PN ARO 504
Right ascension 10h 07m 01.7656s[1][2]
Declination -40° 26′ 11.1389″[1][2]
Constellation Vela
Type of object Planetary nebula
Magnitude Apparengt Mag: +8.2[3]
Absolute Mag: -0.7[4]
Distance from Earth 2,000 ly[5]
Radial velocity 49±36 km/s[1][6]
Proper motion RA: -7.693 mas/yr[1][2]
Dec: 0.411 mas/yr[1][2]
Parallax 1.1567±0.0504 mas[1][2]

The Eight-burst nebula (NGC 3132, PN G272.1+12.3, PN ARO 504) is a striking example of a planetary nebula in the constellation of Vela.[5] The nebula is one of the closest planetary nebulae to us; it only lies approximately 2,000 light years away. The nebula contains various asymmetries and dust lanes that are unusual for this type of nebula.[7] The name "eight-burst" derives from how it appears as a figure eight when observed through small telescopes.[8] The nebula is also occasionally refered to as the "Southern Ring" nebula by amateur astronomers as its low declination means it is only visible to astronomers in the Southern hemisphere.

Properties and Structure

The nebula is generally considered to be one of the closest planetary nebulae to Earth at around 2,000 light years.[5] More recent parallax measurements of the nebula suggest it may actually lie a little further away at 2,800 light years, but it would still be one of the closest.[9] It is around 0.4 light years across and moving away from us at 49 km/s.[10]

At the centre of the nebula is situated a binary system composed of one tenth magnitude star (designated HD 87892) and the other a smaller 16th magnitude star.[11] The small star is smaller than the Sun with an estimated radius 3.5% that of the sun's.[12] However, it is much hotter with a surface temperature of some 100,000 degrees and has a luminosity roughly 110 times that of the Sun.[10][12] Its surface radiates large amounts of ultraviolet radiation that ionizes the surrounding gas, causing it to glow. These gases are expanding outwards from the stars at roughly 9 miles per second.

The nebula has many features uncommon to planetary nebulae. First whereas planetary nebulae are generally very symmetrical, NGC 3132 possesses various asymmetries.[7] It also has cold dust lanes that can be easily observed in images and it is enveloped in a shell of cooler gas, none of which can be explained by secular science. This additional structure the nebula has cannot be seen in visual observations made through small telescopes using the unaided eye, but rather only in long exposure photographs.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 NGC 3132. Simbad Astronomical Database. simbad.u-strasbg.fr. Retrieved on 2019-08-20.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Gaia Colaboration. VizieR Online Data Catalog: Gaia DR2 (Gaia Collaboration, 2018). (2018). VizieR Online Data Catalog. bibcode: 2018yCat.1345....0G
  3. The Eight Burst Nebula (Planetary Nebula). in-the-sky.org. Retrieved on 2019-08-20.
  4. From direct calculation using distance of 2,000 ly and apparent magnitude of +8.2.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 A Glowing Pool Of Light: Planetary Nebula NGC 3132. hubblesite.org (1998-11-05). Retrieved on 2019-08-20.
  6. Strauss, M. A.; Huchra, J. P.; Davis, M. et al. (1992). "A Redshift Survey of IRAS Galaxies. VII. The Infrared and Redshift Data for the 1.936 Jansky Sample". Astrophysical Journal Supplement 83: 29. doi:10.1086/191730. Bibcode1992ApJS...83...29S. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 NGC 3132: The Eight Burst Nebula. apod.nasa.gov. Retrieved on 2019-08-20.
  8. Eight Burst Nebula. astrobin.com. Retrieved on 2019-08-20.
  9. From direct computation using the 2019 parallax value of 1.1567 milli-arcseconds.
  10. 10.0 10.1 NGC 3132, a bright planetary nebula in Vela. annesastronomynews.com. Retrieved on 2019-08-20.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Eight-burst Nebula (NGC 3132). daviddarling.info. Retrieved on 2019-08-20.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Kohoutek, L.; Laustsen, S. (1977). "Central star of NGC 3132 - A visual binary". Astronomy and Astrophysics 61 (5): 761-763. Bibcode1977A&A....61..761K.