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Astr110 Photography Projects, Fall 2007

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Dumbbell Nebula (M27), Brandon Dieleman

Dumbbell Nebula

The Dumbbell Nebula is one of the most well known nebula in the sky. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1764 and was in fact the first planetary nebula ever discovered. A planetary nebula occurs when nuclear fusion stops in it's core, and there is no more hydrogen fuel to burn. The surrounding cloud-like object is material thrown off by the star. The Dumbbell Nebula is 1.25 kilo-light-years away in the constellation Vulpecula, and can even be seen through binoculars!

It is rather difficult to tell how far away, and thus how bright, planetary nebula are. Estimates place it from 490 light years away to 3,500 light years, however most people agree that it is around 1,200 light years away. At this distance the Dumbbell Nebula would be about 100 times brighter than our sun. The red, blue and green clouds are dust and gasses, with the red being mostly hydrogen, and the blue and green being mostly oxygen. The nebula is huge, around 6 by 8 arc minutes, with the thin halo reaching out as far as 15 arc minutes. This nebula is also growing, and while also disputed, most sources claim it is growing at a rate of roughly 17 miles per second. Using this to date the nebula would put this it at around 10,700 years old. Within the nebula there are also many knots, which are groups of gasses and dust that form between the hot and cool sections of the nebula. These knots can be between 11 billion and 35 billion miles long, which is several times larger than the distance between our Sun and the former planet Pluto. In the center of the Dumbbell Nebula is a very bright white dwarf star. Seen clearly in the image above, this dwarf star consists mostly of carbon and oxygen. It can get extremely hot, the highest measured temperature being 85,000 K.

Normandin, George. The Dumb-bell Nebula M-27 (NGC 6853). Ed. George Normandin. 24 Nov. 2004. Kopernik Space Images. 6 Nov. 2007 <http://www.kopernik.org/images/archive/m27.htm>

C.R. , O'Dell . Close-up of M27, the Dumbbell Nebula. 10 Feb. 2003. HubbleSite. 6 Nov. 2007 <http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2003/06/>

Hubble Dazzles: Striking New Close-up of Dumbbell Nebula. 10 Feb. 2003. Imaginova Corp. 6 Nov. 2007 <http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/hubble_dumbell_030210.html>

Hartmut , Frommert, and Christine Kronberg . Messier 27. 21 July 2007. 6 Nov. 2007<http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m027.html>

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 5x60 seconds in C, 300 seconds in BVR
Date observed

October 22, 2007 (C)
October 24, 2007(BVR)