The Owl Nebula is a planetary nebula located in the Ursa Major constellation and was first discovered on February 16, 1781 by Pierre Mechain. Originally named Messier 97, the Owl Nebula was given its new name in 1848 by Lord Rosse. Planetary Nebulas are stars who are in the later stages of life. Nebulas are created when outer layers of the star are gently ejected from the core. The core of the star ejects these layers when it has run out of hydrogen to burn, reducing the core to carbon ash. The Owl Nebula has been ejecting layers for roughly 6,000 years, making it a relatively young nebula but a very old star.
The Owl Nebula is unique in its appearance. The nebulas “cylindrical torus shell” is understood to account for the two “eyes” of the owl. This means that there is a cylinder at the within the nebula that is pulling material into the center. At the center of the nebula, as with any planetary nebula, is a white dwarf. The Owl Nebula has a distance of approximately 2,600 light years from Earth and has a linear size of about 2.6 light years.
Bennett, Jeffrey, Megan Donahue, Nicholas Schneider, and Mark Voit. The Cosmic Perspective. 6th ed. San Francisco: Addison-Wesley, 2010. 543-44.
Frommert, Hartmut, and Christine Kronberg. "M 97." Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. Accessed 6 Dec. 2010.<http://seds.org/messier/m/m097.html>
|Right Ascension (J2000)||11:14:48|
|Exposure time per filter||4 x 300 seconds in C|
October 26, 2010 (C)