M27: The Dumbell Nebula

Like the others of its type, M27 is a bubble of gas that has been ejected by a star at the end if its life. The core of the star still remains in the center (the slightly blue-ish star in the center above the small triangle of white stars) and makes this gas bubble glow. In fact the light emitted by the gas (in the visible wavelengths) is brighter than the central star. How can this be? Most of the light emitted by the central star is in shorter (more energy) wavelengths, such as Ultraviolet, and it is only through the emission of light by the surrounding gas that we see the bubble. M27 is estimated to be 3,500 years old and perhaps 1,000 light years away. As viewed in a small telescope or under city skies the brighter portion of this nebula looks like a half-eaten apple (core), hence the name. From Kitt Peak (and certainly in this image) the full bubble of gas is easily seen in the nebula.
Click on image for larger version.


20in RC Optical Systems telescope Operating at f/8.4
SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

L R G B color production was used to create this image.

Luminance = 70 minutes binned 1x1
Red = 20 minutes binned 2x2
Green = 20 minutes binned 2x2
Blue = 20 minutes binned 2x2

  • Two iterations of L-R deconvolution (sharpening) algorithm using CCDsharp were applied to the luminance image.

  • Minimum credit line: Joe and Gail Metcalf/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF


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    Updated: 4/16/05