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Little Dumbbell Nebula (M76)
Elisabeth Geenen

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The Little Dumbbell Nebula is a planetary nebula.  The nebula is also called the Cork Nebula, Butterfly Nebula, or the Barbell Nebula.  Planetary nebulas are shells of gas thrown out by stars when they are nearing the end of their life.  Pierre Méchain discovered the Little Dumbbell in 1780.    He reported his discovery to Charles Messier who then observed the nebula and included it in his list of Messier Objects and gave it the name M76.  The Little Dumbbell Nebula is one of the faintest Messier Objects.  The exact distance is not known but is estimated to be between 1,700-15,000 light years.  It can be found in the constellation Perseus. 

In the above picture the main part, or cork, of the nebula is a brightly colored green with a little yellow and red light visible towards the edges.  In the middle of the nebula is a faint star that appears blue.  The nebula is an elliptical ring, but in the picture it is seen edge on.  It is difficult to measure the exact distance so to figure out the linear size of the nebula I used 5,000 light years as the distance.  I estimated the angular size of the nebula to be 2 arcminutes. Therefore, the linear size, or diameter, of the nebula is approximately 2.9 light years. 

References:
Arnett, Bill. Types of Nebulae. Web. 6 Dec. 2010. <http://astro.nineplanets.org/twn/types.html>.

Frommert, Hartmut, and Christine Kronberg. Messier 76. Web. 6 Dec. 2010. <http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m076.html>.

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 300 seconds in C, 60 seconds in BVR
Date observed

October 25, 2010 (C)
October 26, 2010 (BVR)

 

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