M76: The Little Dumbell

Click on image for larger version.

M76 is a wonderful nebula to observe visually through the 20in 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 3-5 thousand light years away. This would make the bubble of gas about a light year across. The full resolution image (click on left) 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 Dumbell glow!

20in RC Optical Systems telescope Operating at f/8.4
Paramount ME Robotic Telescope Mount
SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

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

Luminance = 60 minutes binned 1x1
Red = 20 minutes binned 2x2
Green = 20 minutes binned 2x2
Blue = 20 minutes binned 2x2

  • The AO unit was used to acquire this image.
  • Two iterations of sharpening was applied to the image.
  • Taken through thin haze.
  • Minimum credit line: Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF


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    Updated: 08/11/2003