Sunday, 28 January 2018

K 2-1: Never be discouraged

I've written this already a couple of times before, but never be discouraged by a strange object denominator. There's so much more to discover beyond the classic Messiers and NGCs and often you'll be amazed by what you find. Take this strange planetary nebula, for example. Its name is Kohoutek 2-1, after its Czech discoverer, and it lies about halfway between Elnath (B├Ęta Tauri) and Iota Aurigae. Although it's obviously not the brightest of planetaries, it immediately leapt out at me when it moved into the field of view of my binoscope. Even more so, I had no difficulties at all noticing that this particular planetary is way out of the ordinary. As you know, planetary nebulae are usually round or elliptical, hence the nick "planetary" nebulae because they look a bit like a planet. This one's a whole different league with its strange lobes and wonderful structures.

I've found very little information about this little nebula, but I suspect that its central star's binary. I did have the impression to have seen a tiny companion which I've also represented in the sketch. This would certainly explain a lot because the gravitational pull and radiation of a companion star would severely disrupt the nebula's shape.

To make the picture even more interesting, the nebula's surrounded by a lovely, loose cluster of tiny stars, denominated "Skiff 3". Again, no other information to be found anywhere. The nebula would be 3,600 light-years distant, but the for the cluster I can only guess that it lies way beyond.

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