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Astr111 Photography Projects, Fall 2004

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M 27: The Dumbbell Nebula, Sarah Moseler

Dumbbell Nebula

M27, also known as the Dumbbell Nebula, was discovered by Charles Messier on July 12, 1764. The placement of this nebula is about 900 light years away from earth, and it spans about 2 light years across. This nebula is not like a planet, but rather is a large cloud of gas that has been caused from the ejecta expelled from the central star, as well as some from the dying stars surrounding it. This process causes the central star to loss some of its mass, thus becoming more dense as well as becoming very hot, causing it to light up the gas cloud surrounding it with ultraviolet radiation. This nebula is one of the most visible to amateur astronomers with less powerful telescopes.

In my original photo of M27, I observed a light streak through the upper left hand corner, which was a satellite. It is possible to decipher the different gases that make up the dumbbell nebula due to its bright and distinct colors. Another observation that I made was that unlike most nebulae which are spherical in shape, the dumbbell nebula has two indenting curves in the sides, hence the name. Therefore, there must be something that is stopping the gases from spreading outward at those two particular points.