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Owl Nebula (M97)
Lisa Heyer

Owl Nebula

Messier 97, also known as the Owl Nebula is a Planetary Nebula. A Planetary Nebula is "the glowing cloud of gas ejected from a low-mass star at the end of its life" (Bennet, p. G-8). This basically means that the blue star in this Nebula has run out of hydrogen(the fuel of the star). The opaque blue color of the star tells us that it is a very hot tempurature, about 10,000 degrees or more. Because this object is so hot, it produces Ultraviolet lights which allows us to see the beautiful color of the gasses that make up the Owl Nebula. The Owl Nebula was first found by Pierre Mechain on February 16, 1781 and it is located in the constellation Ursa Major. The Owl Nebula gets its name from the two darker spots located in the center of the nebula that looks similar to an owl's face. These spots were possibly created from a disk that caused an uneven escape of gasses when the star collapsed.

By looking at the color of the gas in the Owl Nebula we can make some inferences about what kind of gas surrounds this star that is at the end of its life. From the green color that is seen through the filters used to take this photograph we can infer that the gas in this Nebula is a oxygen. And the red color near the top of the object tells us that there is hydrogen. Becuase the red color is on the outside we can tell that the hydrogen was the layer of gas that was on the outside of the star. The distance to this object is estimated to be 2,600 light years away(seds.org); we find a maximum angular size of 2.99 arcminutes, which corresponds to a linear size of 2.25 lightyears.

References:

Messier Object 97. (n.d.). In Messier Object Index. Retrieved September 2, 2007, from http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m097.html

Bennet, J., & Shostak, S. (2012). Life in the Universe (Third ed.). New York, NY: Addison-Wesley.

Right Ascension (J2000) 11:14:48
Declination (J2000) +55:01:00
Filters used B (Blue), C (Clear), R (Red), V (Green)
Exposure time per filter B, V, R, and C (60s x 5)
Date observed March 9, 2011

 

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