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Wildrik Botjes Planetarium
Physics & Astronomy Department

Astr110 Photography Projects, Fall 2005

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Blinking Planetary Nebula, Deb Anderlohr

Blinking Planetary

This could be what our Sun will look like in 5.6 billion years! When fusion, the process that produces energy in the Sun, ends in the core of our Sun it will become a red giant. Eventually, the red giant will shed its layers leaving the inner core called a white dwarf. Most stars end their life this way. What we see in the blinking planetary is the white dwarf, the core of the star.

In the image above, the white center is the cool leftover core of the star. The fuzzy, green glow around the white central core is the result of gases leftover when the star shed its layers. The Blinking Planetary does not blink at all. It is an optical illusion. Staring directly at the star will make the nebulae disappear. What you do see is the central white star, the white dwarf. If you shift your eyes, looking slightly to the side using peripheral vision, the nebulae will reappear -- blinking on and off. "This is an effect of the different sensitivity of the eye’s rods (peripheral vision and low light) and cones (central vision, sharpness and color) to low light levels. The more sensitive cones can pick up the nebula, but the rods can not." The linear size of the blinking planetary is about 0.63 light years.


Peoria Astronomical Society

Kopernik Astro Society

Right Ascension (J2000) 22:29:36
Declination (J2000) -20:48:00
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 150 seconds in B, 600 seconds in VRC
Date observed

November 5, 2005 (RV)

November 8, 2005 (C)

November 19, 2005 (B)