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Physics & Astronomy Department

Astr110 Photography Projects, Fall 2004

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Little Dumbbell Nebula, Michael DeWit

Little Dumbbell Nebula

The Little Dumbbell Nebula is a planetary nebula. A planetary nebula is the glowing cloud of gas ejected from a low-mass star at the end of its life. This nebula was was discovered by Pierre Mechain on September 5, 1780, but it was not correctly identified as a planetary nebula until 1918 by Herber D. Curtis. The bright part of this nebula is only 65 arcseconds in diameter but with the halo, the nebula has a total diameter of about 290 arcseconds. The distance to this nebula is not positively known, but estimates range from 1700 to 15000 light years. This nebula is known as The Little Dumbbell Nebula, Cork Nebula, Butterfly Nebula, and Barbell Nebula.

In the photo of the Little Dumbbell Nebula, we see a central star and a faint halo on either side of the star. The glowing cloud of gas of the Little Dumbbell Nebula was most likely ejected in the form of stellar winds from the central star when it was still in its Red Giant phase. The cause of the distinct halo form of the gas of this nebula is not known for sure. However, it is hypothesized that the spin and magnetic field of the central star are channeling the gas.

References:

http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m076.html

Bennett, "The Cosmic Perspective", New York c. 2002 AD.

http://members.tripod.com/debnken/planetneb.html

Right Ascension (J2000) 01:42:18
Declination (J2000) +51:34:00
Filters used Clear
Exposure time per filter 300 seconds
Date/Time

November 18, 2004, 2:26 AM (C)