M27 - The Dumbbell Nebula


Copyright 2005 Hap Griffin

M27 is one of a class of objects known as "planetary" nebulae, which derives its name from the fact that early astronomers saw these objects through crude telescopes and thought they resembled planets because of their apparent round shape.  It was later realized that these objects are not part of our solar system at all, but are the remnants of stars which have exploded, blowing their outer layers into space.  Based on studies of the rate of expansion of M27, the time since its explosion is estimated at 3000 to 4000 years.  What is left of the original star can be seen in the middle of the nebula, which is now classified as a bluish hot sub-dwarf dwarf star with a surface temperature of 85,000 degrees Kelvin.  The highly energetic radiation emitted by the central star excites the gases in the blown off material to glow on their own.  

M27 lies at a distance of approximately 1200 light-years. 


Date/Location:    July 8, 2005     Griffin/Hunter Observatory    Bethune, SC
Instrument:    Canon 350D Digital SLR (modified) through 10" Meade LX-200 
Focal Ratio:   f4 via Lumicon GEG focal reducer
Guiding:    Auto via SBIG ST-237 through Orion ED80
Conditions:    Visually clear with some passing clouds
Weather:    68 F
Exposure: 40 minutes total (8 x 5 minutes) @ ISO 800
Filters:    Baader UV/IR Block
Processing:    Focused and captured with DSLRFocus.  RAW to TIFF conversion, frame calibrations, alignment, Digital Development, Adaptive Richardson_Lucy deconvolution, scaling and JPEG conversion with ImagesPlus.  Noise reduction with NeatImage.