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Astr110 Photography Projects, Spring 2010

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Ring Nebula M57 , Michelle Loefstedt

Ring Nebula M57

Messier 57, or more commonly referred to as The Ring Nebula, is located in the northern constellation of Lyra below its brightest star, Vega. M57 can be seen most vibrantly in the northern summer sky, which can be explained by its location in the Summer Triangle, which is an imaginary triangle that can be seen near midnight directly overhead during the summer months. The inner star in this nebula was discovered by the German astronomer Friedrich von Hahn in 1800 and was the second planetary nebula to be discovered. Planetary nebulae are gas clouds that have been emitted at the end of a sun-like stars' existence. This particular star is classified as a white dwarf and is thought to be the remains of a star that once had more mass than our own sun. Scientists predict that the center is continually cooling down and, over the course of a several billion years, will eventually become a cold Black Dwarf. Though von Hahn discovered the center of M57, J.C. Duncan observed and officially discovered M57's halo in 1935. The halo is made up of stellar winds from the star's earlier life.

In this picture taken of the Ring Nebula from the observatory at Calvin College, the colors of green and red appear, with some yellow in between. The green comes from the presence of the "forbidden lines" of ionized oxygen and nitrogen, while the red comes from the excited red light of hydrogen. The center is darkest due to its emissions of solely UV radiation and the colors in the picture expose a decreasing level of ionization from the Ring. M57 is a cylindrical and has an angular size of 1.3 arcminutes. It is located approximately 2.3 lightyears away from Earth.

References:
Frommert, Hartmot and Kronberg, Christine. "Messier 57." Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. <http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m057.html>.

Nemiroff, Robert and Bonnell, Jerry. "M57: The Ring Nebula." NASA: Astronomy Picture of the Day. <http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap060625.html>

"Ring Nebula." Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_Nebula>.

Right Ascension (J2000) 18:53:36
Declination (J2000) +33:02:00
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 5x60 seconds in BVR and C
Date observed

March 3, 2010