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IC 5148/5150 - a planetary nebula in the constellation Crane (Grus)

Object description:

IC 5148 is a beautiful planetary ring nebula at a distance of 4200 light years (GAIA distance for the most central one). It is located in a relatively star-poor region in the constellation Grus (the Crane). The nebula has a diameter of several light-years and is expanding at over 50 kilometers per second, making it one of the fastest growing planetary nebulae in the Milky Way.

In the background lies a large field of very faint galaxies with magnitudes around the 18th and 19th magnitudes and distances ranging from 500 million to 2 billion light-years, identifiable by a yellowish color.

The nebula, which appears in almost monochromatic blue light, has 2 small reddish spots in the northeast and in the southwest. The inner part is not completely dark, but glows faintly in a diffuse light. Clearly visible in our image is the blue central star with a magnitude 16.2 brightness. A high resolution image of IC 5148 shows an image of the ESO.

About the double naming 5148/5150

The nebula was discovered on June 4, 1894 by the Australian amateur astronomer W. F. Gale. Gale was actually a successful comet observer, having discovered 7 comets himself. Gale first thought the nebulous object was also an unknown comet, but after a few nights of observation it was clear to him that this object must not be a comet, but - much rarer - a planetary ring nebula. The Danish astronomer Johan Ludvig Emil Dreyer included the object in 1908 with the catalog number IC 5150 in the 2nd index catalog.

3 years after Gale's discovery - on July 23, 1897 - the nebula was independently observed by Lewis Swift from California. Dreyer cataloged "Swift's object" as IC 5148. The reason for the double entry in the IC catalog was the inaccurate position information of both observers.

IC 5148/5150 has additionally the popular names Ghost Ring Nebula and Spare Tire Nebula. A recent scientific study can be found here.
Click here or the thumbnail to load a large annoted image and a size comparison to the full moon.
The comparison below shows to scale the apparent sizes of the planetary nebulae, left: NGC 7293 (12.8 arcminutes), center: Messier 27 (5.8 arcminutes) and right: IC 5148 (2.0 arcminutes). Total exposure time NGC 7293: 240 min, Messier 27: 130 min and IC 5148: 180 min.

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