The planetary nebula NGC 2346
AAO image reference AAT 79.    « Previous || Next »

The planetary nebula NGC 2346, ngc2346.jpg
Top left is NE. Image width is about 3.8 arc min
Image and text © 1991-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.

NGC 2346 is a fine bipolar planetary nebula which is on the celestial equator in the constellation of Monoceros. It is bright and conspicuous and has been extensively studied. Among its most remarkable characteristics is its unusually cool central star, which is a 'spectroscopic binary'. The two components are identified by the effect of their movement around each other on the lines of their spectrum. The double star, which has a period of about 16 days, is also variable, probably due to dust in orbit around it. The dust itself is heated by the central star and so NGC 2346 is unusually bright in the infrared part of the spectrum. The nebula is sometimes known as the Butterfly nebula, and is at a distance of about 2000 light years.

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1