The Binary and the Disk: The Beauty is Found within NGC3132 with JWST

Sahai, Raghvendra; Bujarrabal, Valentin ; Quintana-Lacaci, Guillermo; Reindl, Nicole ; Van de Steene, Griet ; Sánchez Contreras, Carmen; Ressler, Michael E. (2023).
Atrophysical Journal, 943, 110. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aca7ba

The Planetary Nebula NGC 3132 shows us an amazing scenario of what happens to stars as they evolve into white dwarfs at the end of their lives. Using images from the James Webb Space Telescope Space Telescope at different wavelengths (from near-infrared to mid-infrared), we discovered an extensive dust cloud around the central star of NGC 3132, standing out in the 18 μm image and extending to about 1785 astronomical units. We also confirmed the gravitational relation between the central star and an A2V star located 1.7 seconds to the northeast. We observed their relative motion for 20 years. This dust cloud contains approximately 1.3 × 10^-2 Earth masses, composed mainly of silicate and amorphous carbon. This suggests how the three-star stellar system, including the central star, a close companion and a more distant A2V star, formed and evolved. Initially stable on the main sequence, this system became unstable over time, generating the spectacular mass ejections that created the multipolar planetary nebula we observe. This scenario shows how stars and their systems can undergo impressive transformations in their evolution.

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