Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

2015 Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, Daniele L. Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Daniel Rouan, Tilman Spohn, Stéphane Tirard, Michel Viso

Red Rectangle

  • Sun Kwok
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-44185-5_5076



The Red Rectangle (astronomical coordinates J2000 RA = 06 19 58.2, DEC = −10 38 14.7) in the constellation Monoceros is the common name given to the infrared source CRL 915 (=AFGL 915). The central star of the nebula is HD 44179 = BD–10°1476.


The Red Rectangle was discovered as the result of ground-based identification of infrared sources observed in the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory (AFCRL) rocket sky survey. The infrared object AFCRL 915 coincides in position with a nebulous object on the National Geographic Society-Palomar Sky Survey red print. Because of the peculiar shape of the nebula, the object was given the name “the Red Rectangle” by Martin Cohen and Mike Merrill. In November 1973, Cohen and Merrill took a picture of the object with the 4-m telescope of the Kitt Peak National Observatoryand found it to have a set of spikes in the form of an “X.” Nebular emission can be detected as far as 56 arc s...


Reflection nebulae Extended red emission Molecular synthesis – photoluminescence Unidentified infrared emission bands 
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References and Further Reading

  1. Cohen M et al (1975) The peculiar object HD 44179 (“The Red Rectangle”). Astrophys J 196:179–189CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  2. Cohen M, Van Winckel H, Bond HE, Gull TR (2004) Hubble space telescope imaging of HD 44179 the Red Rectangle. Astronomy J127:2362–2377CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  3. Koning N, Kwok S, Steffen W (2011) Morphology of the Red Rectangle proto-planetary nebula. Astrophys J 740:27–36CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  4. Merrill KM, Stein WA (1976) 2–14 μm stellar spectrophotometry II. Stars from the 2 μm infrared sky survey. Publ Astron Soc Pac 88:294–307CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  5. Russell RW, Soifer BT, Willner SP (1978) The infrared spectra of CRL 618 and HD 44179/CRL 915. Astrophys J 220:568–572CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  6. Schmidt GD, Witt AN (1991) X marks the SPOT – distribution and excitation of unidentified molecules in the Red Rectangle. Astrophys J 383:698–704CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  7. Schmidt GD, Cohen M, Margon B (1980) Discovery of optical molecular emission from the bipolar nebula surrounding HD 44179. Astrophys J 239:L133–L138CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  8. Van Winckel H, Cohen M, Gull TR (2002) The ERE of the “Red Rectangle” revisited. Astron Astrophys 390:147–154CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  9. Van Winckel H, Waelkens C, Waters LBFM (1995) The extremely iron-deficient “Post-AGB” stars and binaries. Astron Astrophys 293:L25–L28ADSGoogle Scholar
  10. Waelkens C, Van Winckel H, Waters LBFM, Bakker EJ (1996) Variability and nature of the binary in the Red Rectangle nebula. Astron Astrophys 314:L17–L20ADSGoogle Scholar
  11. Waters LBFM, Cami J, de Jong T, Molster FJ, van Loon JT, Bouwman J, de Koter A, Waelkens C, Van Winckel H, Morris PW, de Graauw T (1998) An oxygen-rich dust disk surrounding an evolved star in the Red Rectangle. Nature 391:868CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ScienceThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina