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M76 Little Dumbbell Nebula
Jackson Hall

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Little Dumbbell Nebula (M76)


The Little Dumbbell is a planetary nebula located in the Perseus Constellation. The Nebula, also known as Messier 76, was observed in 1780 by Pierre Mechain, but was not recognized as a planetary nebula until 1918 by Heber D. Curtis. Its name comes from its similar appearance to the Dumbbell Nebula M27. It is also known as the Butterfly or Cork Nebula. The main body is an expanding ring that we see mostly edge-on. The nebula is surrounded by a halo-like region that was likely ejected by stellar winds from the central star during its Red Giant phase. The nebula, made out of the ejected outer layers of the star it once made up, is an expanding shell of ejected ionized gas. The Little Dumbbell is 3,400 light years away. 

The Little Dumbbell looks like a core with two butterfly-like wings extending on either side of the core. The wings appear slightly translucent, with some parts being fairly cloudy and others being nearly completely clear. This is made up of the ejected ionized gases. From looking at the image, one can gather that it is expanding.  It is obvious that it is in some gaseous form, as it is not solid and light can pass through it. The linear diameter of the nebula is about 2 light years.              


Nemiroff, Robert and Jerry Bonnell. "Messier 76." Astronomy Picture of the Day. 23 Jul. 2010. Accessed 3 Dec. 2010. <>

Millikan, A. G. "Extended halos on planetary nebulae." Astronomical Journal (1974), 79, 1259.

Right Ascension (J2000) 01:42:18. 05
Declination (J2000) 51:34
Filters used clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 4x300s
Date observed

November 26 , 2010 (C)



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