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Astr110 Photography Projects, Fall 2007

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Little Dumbbell Nebula (M76), Joshua Meckes

Little Dumbbell

Little Dumbbell (M76) is a planetary nebula. A planetary nebula is material thrown off by a star that has run out of hydrogen fuel to burn. It was discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1780. Little Dumbbell is located in the Perseus constellation. In 1918 it was recognized as a planetary nebula by Heber Doust Curtis. The distance of Little Dumbbell is very unclear and estimates have been made that it is anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 light years away , which makes its dimensions also hard to determine.

The main body (the middle section) is commonly believed to be a bright and elliptical ring we see edge-on. On the outside of the nebula, it looks as if though there are wings (like that of a butterfly). These "wings" are formed by rapidly expanding gas. Little Dumbbell is named after another nebula, (M27) Dumbbell nebula, because it looks like a smaller version of this. It is considered to be the "right foot" of the constellation Andromeda. The magnitude of the central part of the nebula is 16.6 and has a temperature of 60,000 K. Little Dumbbell appears to glow because this extreme temperature which helps produce ultraviolet light. You can see the red and green tints, which means that it is made up of Hydrogen and Oxygen. Little Dumbbell is one of the fainter objects on Messier's list. The linear size of Little Dumbbell is 2.915 light years.


Astronomy Picture of the Day

Little Dumbbell Nebula

Right Ascension (J2000) 01:42:18
Declination (J2000) 51:34:00
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 20, 2007 (C)
October 25, 2007 (BVR)