Cotton candy nebula

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Cotton candy nebula
Observational Data
Designation IRAS 17150−3224
Right ascension 17h 18m 19.85s[1]
Declination -32° 27′ 21.6″[1]
Constellation Ara
Type of object Protoplanetary nebula
Distance from Earth 9,650 ly[2]

The Cotton candy nebula (IRAS 17150−3224) is a protoplanetary nebula in the constellation of Ara, The Altar. The nebula has a bipolar structure (meaning it consists of two large lobes), with a central star.[3] This central star is not visible in optical image of the nebula due to a dark lane that obscures it. However is can be observed in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, where the obscuring effects of dust are greatly reduced. The two lobes are spearated by this dark lane.[3] It is thought there is a toroidal (doughnut-shaped) structure at the very core of the nebula that is expanding.[4]

The nebula lies approximately 9,650 light years from Earth and have a temperature between 168-409 kelvin.[2] The total luminosity of the nebula has been estimated to be 12,000 times that of the Sun.[2] Intense ultraviolet radiation emanating from the central star ionizes the enveloping gas, causing it to glow.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Cotton candy nebula from the SIMBAD Astronomical Database
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Vickers, S., Frew, D., Parker, Q. and Bojičić, I. (2014). New light on Galactic post-asymptotic giant branch stars – I. First distance catalogue. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 447(2), pp.1673-1691. arXiv:1403.7230 [astro-ph.SR]
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lagadec, E. et Al. (2011). A mid-infrared imaging catalogue of post-asymptotic giant branch stars. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 417(1), pp.32-92. arXiv:1102.4561 [astro-ph.SR]
  4. Weintraub, D., Huard, T., Kastner, J. and Gatley, I. (1998). The Onset of Molecular Hydrogen Emission from Proto–planetary Nebulae. The Astrophysical Journal, 509(2), pp.728-732. Bibcode:1998ApJ...509..728W