[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Calvin Observatory
Weather Forecast
Cool Images
Observing Request
External Links
Related Links
Wildrik Botjes Planetarium
Physics & Astronomy Department

Astr110 Photography Projects, Fall 2006

Previous imageUp to Astr110 IndexNext image

Dumbbell Nebula (M27), Amanda Avis

Dumbbell Nebula

The Dumbbell Nebula is known as one of the brightest and best know planetary nebulae (the first planetary nebula discovered!).  This nebula was discovered in July of 1764 by Charles Messier.  It was named after its doubled-lobed appearance.  This nebula lies in Vulpecula at the southern end of Cygnus.  Its Magnitude (about 7.4 visual brightness) makes it easy to find it even in small telescopes.  Also, it is estimated to be 1,200 light-years away from Earth, with a linear size of 1.818 light-years, and about 3,000 to 4,000 years old.

Planetary nebulae are formed in the dying stages of a star when the core fusion reactions decline to the extent that the star’s structure cannot be supported.  This means, gravity forces the outer part of the star to collapse inwards, causing the inner part to condense and heat up.  The intense build up of pressure and radiation causes the outer shell to explode.  Then, the intense stellar and radiation causes the outer shell the surrounding gases to ionize in bright colors, which give this nebula its pretty colors! The red, green and blue colors of the nebula are produced by a tenuous gas. The red is produced by hydrogen, while the blue and green primarily arise from oxygen. The gas in turn is heated and by the ultraviolet light from the central blue star. Also, the blue color is a consequence of its high surface temperature.


Right Ascension (J2000) 19:59:36
Declination (J2000) +22:43:00
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 5x6 seconds in BGR, 10x30 seconds in C
Date observed

October 12, 2006 (BVRC)