Thursday, 30 August 2018

NGC6804 and its curious dust disk

NGC6804 is a fairly advanced planetary nebula in the constellation of Aquila, the eagle. In spite of its distance of 4,200 light-years, a high surface brightness makes this nebula an easy target for small to medium telescopes. Its outer shell has reached a diameter of 1.3 light-years and therefore its expansion is slowing down due to the interaction with interstellar space. 

Yet there's more to this fine planetary than its three shells reveal at first sight. Invisible to human eyes, this planetary emits a significant amount of radiation in infrared wavelengths, much like NGC7008. The cause for this is a large dust disk surrounding the white dwarf, probably rubble and debris of a planetary system that once existed but that has died along with its progenitor star. Within the next 5 billion years, also the Earth will follow the same tragic fate.

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