(ORDO NEWS) — Astronomers have conducted an astrophotometric study of the open cluster known as Messier 37.
One of the main results of this study is the conclusion that Messier 37 hosts a large, developed planetary nebula. The study was detailed in an article published Aug. 12 on arXiv.org.
Planetary nebulae are expanding shells of gas and dust that were ejected from a star as it evolved into a red giant or white dwarf. Such nebulae are relatively rare, but important to astronomers studying the chemical evolution of stars and galaxies.
Messier 37 (also known as M37 or NGC 2099) lies about 4,500 light-years away and is the brightest and most populous open cluster in the constellation Auriga.
Its radius is between 10 and 13 light years and its mass is about 1500 solar masses. There are over 500 known stars in the cluster.
A team of astronomers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico has provided evidence that PN IPHASX J055226.2+323724, first discovered in 2008, is part of Messier 37.
The conclusion that IPHASX J055226.2+323724 is a member of Messier 37 is based on data analysis on the successive radial velocities and proper motions of the central star of the planetary nebula and the stars of the cluster, obtained from the Gaia EKA satellite.
According to the study, IPHASX J055226.2+323724 was formed 78,000 years ago and has a radius of approximately 5.2 light years.
The nebula has a low surface brightness. The central star of the nebula is a white dwarf with a mass of about 0.63 solar masses.
Summing up, the authors of the article noted that IPHASX J055226.2+323724 is so far only the third known planetary nebula in a galactic open cluster.
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