Best of AOP - Planetary Nebulae

M76 (Little Dumbbell)

M76 is a wonderful nebula to observe visually through the 20" telescope on a dark night. It displays two distinct features - the bright inner rectangle and very dim outer loops. Like most nebulae of this type, these loops of material (the rectangular part is a torus viewed edgewise) are cast off by the death of star of average mass. Stars more massive would actually explode. This process is much more non-violent and results in the convoluted bubbles shown here. The distance to M76 is uncertain, but most sources place it between 3000-5000 lightyears away. This would make the bubble of gas about a lightyear across. The full resolution image (click on image) best shows the very heart of the nebula where the central star resides. The image shows a double star - the top of which is distinctly blue. It is this hot star that is responsible for making the Little Dumbbell glow!

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Last Updated: 18-Jun-2014

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Sky Location:

About This Image

Click on image for larger version.

Equipment

20in RC Optical Systems telescope Operating at f/8.1

Paramount ME Robotic Telescope Mount

SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

LRGB color production was used to create this image.

The AO-7 unit was used to acquire this image.

Taken through thin haze.

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

Luminance = 60 minutes binned 1x1

Red = 20 minutes binned 2x2

Green = 20 minutes binned 2x2

Blue = 20 minutes binned 2x2

Minimum credit line: Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF