News Release Archive:

News Release 717 of 1051

October 7, 1999 12:00 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-1999-35

Hubble Heritage Project's First Anniversary


Image: NGC 2346

NGC 2346STScI-PRC1999-37

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NGC 2346, in contrast to the first two young objects, is a so-called "planetary nebula," which is ejected from Sun-like stars which are near the ends of their lives. NGC 2346 is remarkable because its central star is known to be actually a very close pair of stars, orbiting each other every 16 days. It is believed that the binary star was originally more widely separated. However, when one component of the binary evolved, expanded in size, and became a red-giant star, it literally swallowed its companion star. The companion star then spiralled downwards inside the red giant, and in the process spewed out gas into a ring around the binary system. Later on, when the hot core of the red giant was exposed, it developed a faster stellar wind, which emerged perpendicularly to the ring and inflated two huge "bubbles." This two-stage process is believed to have resulted in the butterfly-like shape of the nebula. NGC 2346 lies about 2,000 light-years away from us, and is about one-third of a light-year in size.

Object Name: NGC 2346

Image Type: Astronomical

Image Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI).


The above image is part of a montage:

Montage Image: Hubble Heritage Project's First Anniversary Image Type: Astronomical Hubble Heritage Project's First Anniversary Herbig Haro 32: Jets of Material Ejected From a Young Star Image Type: Astronomical Herbig Haro 32: Jets of Material Ejected From  a Young StarPRC1999-35 Hubble's Variable Nebula (NGC 2261) Image Type: Astronomical Hubble's Variable Nebula (NGC 2261)PRC1999-36 NGC 2440 Image Type: Astronomical NGC 2440PRC1999-38

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