Red rectangle nebula

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Red rectangle nebula
Observational Data
Designation IRAS 06176-1036
HD 44179
Right ascension 06h 19m 58.20s[1]
Declination -10° 38′ 15.06″[1]
Constellation Monoceros
Type of object Protoplanetary nebula
Magnitude Apparent Mag: +9[2]
Absoulte Mag: -0.6[3]
Distance from Earth 2,772 ly[4]
Radial velocity 21.50 km/s[1]
Proper motion RA: -6.46 mas/yr[1]
Dec.: -22.74 mas/yr[1]
Parallax 2.27±2.28 mas[1]

The Red rectangle nebula (IRAS 06176-1036, binary system designated HD 44179) is a protoplanetary nebula in the constellation of Monoceros, the unicorn.[5] The binary star at its core was first observed in 1915 by Robert Grant Aitken but it wasn't until 1973 that the surrounding nebula was observed during an infrared sky survey.[2] It is noteworthy for seeming to have a rectangular structure in early images, though more recent images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope have shown it to look more like the letter "X".[6] Lines of gas can also be seen in the nebula similar to the rungs of a ladder. It is thought this structure is due to a thick torus of dust that envelopes the central binary star. This "pinches" the outflow of material into two cones pointing in opposite directions instead of a spherically symmetric output. The toroidal dust structure is viewed edge on from Earth, resulting in the cones producing an "X" shape. The color of the nebula has been speculated to be caused by the presence of hydrocarbons in the nebula, but is unknown.[5]

The nebula is thought to be around 2,772 light years from Earth, though some estimates are lower at approximately 2,300 ly.[4][6] It's temperature is estimated to be 264-607 kelvin and its luminosity at 6,000 times that of the Sun.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 HD 44179 from the SIMBAD Astronomical Database
  2. 2.0 2.1 Weird Object: Red Rectangle Nebula. Retrieved on 2019-01-24.
  3. By direct calculation using apparent magnitude of +9 and distance of 2,772 ly.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Vickers, S., Frew, D., Parker, Q. and Bojičić, I. (2014). New light on Galactic post-asymptotic giant branch stars – I. First distance catalogue. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 447(2), pp.1673-1691. arXiv:1403.7230 [astro-ph.SR]
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Red Rectangle Nebula from Hubble. Retrieved on 2019-01-24.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hubble Frames a Unique Red Rectangle. Retrieved on 2019-01-24.