Engraved Hourglass Nebula

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Hourglass Nebula
Hubble Space Telescope image of the Hourglass Nebula
Observation data: J2000 epoch
Right ascension 13h 39m 35.116s[1]
Declination −67° 22′ 51.45″[1]
Distance 8 kly (2.5 kpc)[citation needed] ly
Apparent magnitude (V) 13.0[1]
Constellation Musca
Physical characteristics
Radius - ly
Absolute magnitude (V) -
Notable features -

ESO 97-1,[1]
Engraved Hourglass Nebula,[1]
Etched Hourglass Nebula,[1]

PN MyCn 18[1]
See also: Lists of nebulae

The Engraved Hourglass Nebula (also known as MyCn 18[2]) is a young planetary nebula in the southern constellation Musca about 8,000 light-years from Earth. It was discovered by Annie Jump Cannon and Margaret W. Mayall during their work on an extended Henry Draper Catalogue (the catalogue was built between 1918 and 1924). At the time, it was designated simply as a small faint planetary nebula. Much improved telescopes and imaging techniques allowed the hourglass shape of the nebula to be discovered by Raghvendra Sahai and John Trauger of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on January 18, 1996. It is conjectured that MyCn 18's hourglass shape is produced by the expansion of a fast stellar wind within a slowly expanding cloud which is denser near its equator than its poles. The vivid colours given off by the nebula are the result of different 'shells' of elements being expelled from the dying star, in this case helium, nitrogen, oxygen and carbon.

The Hourglass Nebula was photographed by the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 of the Hubble Space Telescope.

A less-famous "Hourglass Nebula" is located inside the Lagoon Nebula.

Hourglass Nebula in popular culture[edit]

  • The Hourglass Nebula was featured on the cover of the April 1997 issue of National Geographic. The nebula’s unique appearance led the magazine’s editors to comment, “Astronomers looked 8,000 light-years into the cosmos with the Hubble Space Telescope, and it seemed that the eye of God was staring back.”
  • The Hourglass Nebula serves as the front cover for Pearl Jam's 2000 album Binaural.
  • The Hourglass Nebula appears in the popular game, Final Doom.
  • The Hourglass Nebula appears on a poster in the CERN laboratory in the film Angels & Demons.
  • The Hourglass Nebula appears extensively, and is used as a major plot point in the 2002 animated series Space Pirate Captain Herlock: The Endless Odyssey.
  • The Hourglass Nebula appears in the video games Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 as one of the clusters that can be visited for missions.
  • The Hourglass Effect is a 2008 album by the British band Shadowkeep.
  • The Hourglass Nebula appears on the cover for International Body Talk Association's "Finding Health" manual.
  • The Hourglass Nebula appears on a poster in Raj Koothrappali's office in the episode "The 43 Peculiarity" (among others) of 'The Big Bang Theory.

See also[edit]


  1. STScI. Hubble Finds an Hourglass Nebula around a Dying Star. Press release: Space Telescope Science Institute. January 16, 1996.
  1. ^ a b c d e f g "SIMBAD Astronomical Database". Results for PN MyCn 18. Retrieved 2006-12-22. 
  2. ^ MyCn stands for Margaret Walton Mayall (My) and Annie Jump Cannon (Cn), their 39-object catalogue was published in 1940 as New Peculiar Spectra in the Harvard College Observatory Bulletin, no. 913; Mayall has a later 139-object catalogue to her name, designated My: New Peculiar Spectra, Harvard College Observatory Bulletin, no. 920.

Coordinates: Sky map 13h 39m 35.12s, −67° 22′ 51.45″