Planetary Nebula Abell 78

Abell 78
Abell 78: Combination of an image from the Hubble Space Telescope and PanSTARRS. © ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Guerrero, Judy Schmidt [165, 334]


The planetary nebula Abell 78 (PN A55 64, PN A66 78, PK 81-14.1) was discovered in 1955 by the American astronomer George Ogden Abell on the photo plates of the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSS). In 1966 he published a list of a total of 86 planetary nebulae discovered on the POSS photo plates. [331, 332]

Physical Properties

When stars with about 0.8 to 8 times the solar mass of the hydrogen driving nuclear fusion are used up, they collapse to form dense, hot, white dwarf stars. During this process, the dying star sheds its outer layers of material and forms a cloud of gas and dust known as the planetary nebula (PN). This name is historical and misleading. It stems from the fact that the first planetary nebulae discovered in telescopes were mostly spherical and looked like distant gas planets.

However, some PNs like Abell 78 are the result of what is known as a «reborn» star. Although the star's core has stopped burning hydrogen and helium, a thermonuclear runaway is ejecting material at its surface at high speed. This ejection shocks the material of the old nebula and sweeps it away, creating filaments and the irregular shell around the central star. The faint outer halo is predominantly hydrogen, while the inner elliptical ring is predominantly helium. This confirms that inside stars hydrogen is converted to helium, which can be ejected back into the galactic gas pool to create future enriched stars. [334, 335]

Abell 78
Abell 78: Planetary nebula in Cygnus; 500 mm Cassegrain f=5800 mm f/11.4; SBIG STL11K; 100+20+20+20 min LRGB; Bernese Highlands; © 2005 Radek Chromik
Abell 78
Abell 78: Planetary nebula; Takahashi Mewlon 250 CR, Reducer CR 0.73 (f=1800mm / f7.25), SBIG ST-8300; 17L x 1200sec 1×1, 11R, 12G, 15B 2×2 x 1200sec; Bernese Highlands; © 2020 Bernhard Blank, Dragan Vogel
«Strasbourg-ESO Catalogue of Galactic Planetary Nebulae» Acker et al., 1992 [141]
DesignationsPN G081.2-14.9: A 78, PK 81-14.1, A55 64, ARO 174, VV' 554
Right Ascension (J2000.0)21h 35m 29s
Declination (J2000.0)+31° 41' 45"
Dimensions 107." (optical)
Distance 0.70 kpc
Radial Velocity+17.0 km/s ± 10.0 km/s
Expansion Velocity 27. km/s (O-III)
C-Star DesignationsAG82 433, CSI +31-21334 0, UBV 18570
C-Star Magnitude11.86 mag (U filter), 13.02 mag (B filter), 13.21 mag (V filter)
C-Star Spectral TypeO5fek, Of/WR(C)
DiscovererABELL 1955

Finder Chart

The planetary nebula Abell 78 is located in the constellation Cygnus (Swan). The best observation time is April to November.

Chart Planetary Nebula Abell 78
Planetary Nebula Abell 78 in constellation Cygnus. Chart created using SkySafari 6 Pro and STScI Digitized Sky Survey. [149, 160]

More Objects Nearby (±15°)


141Strasbourg-ESO Catalogue of Galactic Planetary Nebulae; A. Acker, F. Ochsenbein, B. Stenholm, R. Tylenda, J. Marcout, C. Schohn; European Southern Observatory; ISBN 3-923524-41-2 (1992); (2021-02-18)
149SkySafari 6 Pro, Simulation Curriculum;
160The STScI Digitized Sky Survey;
165Flickr: Judy Schmidt; (2021-01-02)
331«Globular Clusters and Planetary Nebulae Discovered on the National Geographic Society-Palomar Observatory Sky Survey» Abell, G. O.; Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Vol. 67, No. 397, p.258-261, August 1955; DOI:10.1086/126815; Bibcode:1955PASP...67..258A
332«Properties of Some Old Planetary Nebulae» Abell, G. O.; Astrophysical Journal, vol. 144, p.259, April 1966; DOI:10.1086/148602; Bibcode:1966ApJ...144..259A
334Hubble Captures Re-energized Planetary Nebula; (2021-05-10)
335«The Discovery of Tidal Tails around the Globular Cluster NGC 5466» Belokurov, V.; Evans, N. W.; Irwin, M. J.; Hewett, P. C.; Wilkinson, M. I.; The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 637, Issue 1, pp. L29-L32. January 2006; DOI:10.1086/500362; Bibcode:2006ApJ...637L..29B