JWST observations of the Ring Nebula (NGC 6720): I. Imaging of the rings, globules, and arcs

R Wesson, Mikako Matsuura, Albert a Zijlstra, Kevin Volk, Patrick j Kavanagh, Guillermo García-Segura, I Mcdonald, Raghvendra Sahai, M j Barlow, Nick l j Cox, Jeronimo Bernard-Salas, Isabel Aleman, Jan Cami, Nicholas Clark, Harriet l Dinerstein, K Justtanont, Kyle f Kaplan, A Manchado, Els Peeters, Griet c Van de steenePeter a m Van hoof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present JWST images of the well-known planetary nebula NGC 6720 (the Ring Nebula), covering wavelengths from 1.6µm to 25 µm. The bright shell is strongly fragmented with some 20 000 dense globules, bright in H2, with a characteristic diameter of 0.2 arcsec and density nH ∼ 105–106 cm−3. The shell contains a thin ring of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emission. H2 is found throughout the shell and in the halo. H2 in the halo may be located on the swept-up walls of a biconal polar flow. The central cavity is shown to be filled with high ionization
gas and shows two linear structures. The central star is located 2 arcsec from the emission centroid of the cavity and shell. Linear features (‘spikes’) extend outward from the ring, pointing away from the central star. Hydrodynamical simulations are shown which reproduce the clumping and possibly the spikes. Around ten low-contrast, regularly spaced concentric arc-like features are present; they suggest orbital modulation by a low-mass companion with a period of about 280 yr A previously known much wider companion is located at a projected separation of about 15 000 au; we show that it is an M2–M4 dwarf. The system is therefore a triple star. These features, including the multiplicity, are similar to those seen in the Southern Ring Nebula (NGC 3132) and may be a common aspect of such
Original languageEnglish
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Early online date13 Dec 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Dec 2023


  • planetary nebulae
  • general – planetary nebulae
  • : individual
  • NGC6720 – circumstellar matter
  • stars
  • evolution


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