Oldest planetary nebula discovered in open cluster M37

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of astronomers, led by scientists from the Laboratory for Space Research (LSR) and the Department of Physics at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), have discovered a rare planetary nebula (PN) inside the open star cluster M37 (also known as NGC2099).

The results of the study were published in the public domain in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The M37 cluster is already 500 million years old. The planetary nebula found in it has been named IPHASX J055226.2+323724. It became the third planetary nebula to be discovered in an open star cluster.

In total, about 4000 PNs have been found in the Milky Way. IPHASX J055226.2+323724 is also the oldest planetary nebula ever found.

A small team led by Professor Quentin Parker, Director of LSR HKU, found that IPHASX J055226.2+323724 has a kinematic age of 70,000 years.

To determine the age of the nebula, the scientists analyzed its expansion rate and studied its emission lines.

Interestingly, the typical age of PN is between 5,000 and 25,000 years. This is indeed a very old planetary nebula. Scientists attribute the extended lifespan of the nebula to its location in a star cluster.

Data on the central star PN from ESA’s Gaia telescope helped determine that the diameter of IPHASX J055226.2+323724 is approximately 3.2 parsecs.


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