Nebulae : Ngc 2346

NGC 2346 : A Very Close Star Swallows Its Companion

NGC 2346 is a so-called "planetary nebula," which is ejected from Sun-like stars which are near the ends of their lives. NGC 2346 lies about 2,000 light-years away from us and is about one-third of a light-year in size.

NGC 2346 is remarkable because its central star is known to be actually a very close pair of stars, orbiting each other every 16 days. It is believed that the binary star was originally more widely separated.

However, when one component of the binary evolved, expanded in size, and became a red-giant star, it literally swallowed its companion star. The companion star then spiralled downwards inside the red giant, and in the process spewed out gas into a ring around the binary system.

Image : NASA ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI AURA)





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20 May 2019 : 18.234.51.17 : NGC 2346 : A Very Close Star Swallows Its Companion