NGC 6826

Alt. Designations: NGC 6826
Object Type: planetary nebula
Constellation: Cygnus
Distance: 2 kly
Right Ascension: 19h 44m 48.2s
Declination: +50° 31´ 32"
Visual Magnitude: 8.8
Apparent Dimension: 0.6´ Dia.
Best Month To View: Jul

NGC 6826 (also known as Caldwell 15) is a planetary nebula located in the constellation Cygnus. It is commonly referred to as the "blinking planetary", although many other nebulae exhibit such "blinking". When viewed through a small telescope, the brightness of the central star overwhelms the eye when viewed directly, obscuring the surrounding nebula. However, it can be viewed well in the peripheral vision (averted vision), which causes it to "blink" in and out of view as the observer's eye wanders. A distinctive feature of this nebula are the two bright patches on either side, which are known as FLIERs, or Fast Low-Ionization Emission Regions. They appear to be relatively young, moving outwards at supersonic speeds. According to Bruce Balick (University of Washington), "some of their observed characteristics suggest that they are like sparks flung outward from the central star late in the very recent past (a thousand years ago). Yet their shapes ... seem to suggest that they are stationary, and that material ejected from the star flows past them, scraping gas from their surfaces. Future Hubble observations will monitor any changes in the positions of FLIERs to resolve this issue. In either case, the formation of FLIERs cannot be easily explained by any models of stellar evolution."