November 2022 - Picture of the Month
Messier 37 and IPHASX J055226.2+323724 in Auriga
This month's choice of image was brought about by Owen Brazell: he posted it recently on our mailing list. Peter Goodhew spoke at our Annual Meeting in 2022, he's part of a team doing some amazing pro-am astronomy, and this result is part of that.
The name of this recently discovered planetary nebula doesn't trip off the tongue, IPHASX J055226.2+323724, but the open cluster in this image must be familiar to all amateur astronomers. I've no idea how often I've observed Messier 37, with binoculars and telescopes of varying size, and never suspected that this huge object was hiding there.
IPHASX J055226.2+323724 is about 70,000 years old, and that's a long time to become sparse and faint. Peter Goodhew and Sven Eklund have combined nearly 84.5 hours of imaging time to make it visible in colour: this is not a visual object.
The most exciting aspect of this discovery is that the planetary nebula is associated with Messier 37, so this is the result of the death of one of the cluster's stars, and this is apparently only the 3rd example of such an association in the catalogue. It's also this association that makes this image so fascinating for me.
James Whinfrey - Website Administrator.