NGC 1514 – THE CRYSTAL BALL NEBULA
Photo By: Leonardo Orazi (CLICK photo for full size & links below).
Discovered by William Herschel on November 13, 1790 this dying star surrounded by fluorescing gas is what’s known as a planetary nebula. It’s the story of a star that has gone through its life’s evolution to find itself at the doorstep of death. Its outer layers are being given back to the cosmos from whence it came, and where it shall remain. Massive doses of ultraviolet radiation from the now exposed inner layers of the star radiate it and render it aglow. Though there are different types of planetary nebula, this is the foundation of them all.
If you look closely, you can see perturbations in optical light and if you view the photo of this object taken by NASA’s WISE space telescope you will see that it has two almost perfectly symmetrical rings of dust ejected by not one, but a pair of closely orbiting dying stars. The ring structure was formed by that dust impacting the inner walls of a cavity previously cleared by the stars stellar wind (radiation).
William Herschel after viewing this nebula wrote: “A most singular phenomenon! A star of about 8th magnitude with a faint luminous atmosphere, of circular form, and about 3 minutes in diameter. The star is in the centre, and the atmosphere is so faint and delicate and equal throughout that there can be no surmise of it’s consisting of stars; nor can there be a doubt of the evident connection between the atmosphere and the star.”
NAME: NGC 1514, Crystal Ball Nebula.
WHAT IS IT?: Planetary Nebula.
HOW BIG IS IT?: 2.2’ arcminutes on the night sky.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Approximately 2300 light years distant.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE?: Integrated Visual Magnitude of 10 or +10.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Taurus.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 04h 09m 16.98s / DEC +30° 46′ 33.47″.
Leonardo Orazi page for this object: http://www.starkeeper.it/NGC1514.htm
Leonardo Orazi Homepage: http://www.starkeeper.it/
NASA page for this object: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/WISE/news/wise20101117.html
NASA JPL page for this object: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA13446
SKYHOUND page for this object: http://observing.skyhound.com/archives/dec/NGC_1514.html
Bob Franke of Focal Point Observatory page for this object: http://bf-astro.com/ngc1514/ngc1514.htm