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NGC 2438 (Planetary Nebula)


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NGC 2438
Planetary Nebula (惑星状星雲)
Nb PN


別名 (Other names)
PK 231+4.2

明るさ (Brightness)
10.8等級

星座 (Constellation)
とも座 (Pup) (Puppis)


距離 (Distance)
3,000光年 (3,000 light-years)

NGC 2438 is a planetary nebula located 3,000 light years from the Earth in the constellation Puppis.

NGC 2438 (Planetary Nebula) : Picture

Planetary Nebula NGC 2438
Planetary Nebula NGC 2438
(C) Daniel López, IAC
NGC 2438 is a planetary nebula, the gaseous shroud cast off by a dying sunlike star billions of years old whose central reservoir of hydrogen fuel has been exhausted. About 3,000 light-years distant it lies within the boundaries of the nautical constellation Puppis. Remarkably, NGC 2438 also seems to lie on the outskirts of bright, relatively young open star cluster M46. But this planetary nebula's central star is not only much older than the stars of M46, it moves through space at a different speed than the cluster stars. Distance estimates also place NGC 2438 closer than M46 and so the nebula appears in the foreground, only by chance along the line-of-sight to the young star cluster. This deep image of NGC 2438 highlights a halo of glowing atomic gas over 4.5 light-years across, extending beyond the nebula's brighter inner ring. Similar haloes have been found in deep images of other planetary nebulae, produced during the earlier active phases of their aging central stars.

M46 and NGC 2438
M46 and NGC 2438
(C) Roth Ritter (Dark Atmospheres)
Galactic or open star clusters are relatively young. These swarms of stars are born near the plane of the Milky Way, but their numbers steadily dwindle as cluster members are strewn through the Galaxy by gravitational interactions. This bright open cluster, known as M46, is around 300 million years young and still contains a few hundred stars within its span of 30 light-years or so. Located about 5,000 light-years away toward the constellation Puppis, M46 also seems to contain a contradiction to its youthful status. In the lovely starscape, the colorful, circular patch just below the center of M46 (also inset at upper left) is the planetary nebula NGC 2438. Planetary nebulae are a brief, final phase in the life of a solar-type star a few billion years old whose central reservoir of hydrogen fuel has been exhausted. In fact, old NGC 2438 is estimated to be only 3,000 light-years distant and moves at a different speed than M46 cluster members. It likely represents a foreground object, only by chance appearing along our line-of-sight to young M46.

M46 & M47: Star Clusters Young and Old
M46 & M47: Star Clusters Young and Old
(C) Sergio Eguivar (Buenos Aires Skies)
Many stars form in clusters. Galactic or open star clusters are relatively young swarms of bright stars born together near the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. Separated by about a degree on the sky, two nice examples are M46 (upper left) 5,400 light-years in the distance and M47 (lower right) only 1,600 light-years away toward the nautical constellation Puppis. Around 300 million years young M46 contains a few hundred stars in a region about 30 light-years across. Aged 80 million years, M47 is a smaller but looser cluster of about 50 stars spanning 10 light-years. But this portrait of stellar youth also contains an ancient interloper. The small, colorful patch of glowing gas in M46 is actually the planetary nebula NGC 2438 - the final phase in the life of a sun-like star billions of years old. NGC 2438 is estimated to be only 3,000 light-years distant and likely represents a foreground object, only by chance appearing along our line of sight to youthful M46.

NGC 2438 M46 And NGC 2438
NGC 2438
(C) Daniel López, IAC
M46 And NGC 2438
(C) Wil Milan
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