M27 was discovered by Charles Messier on July 12, 1764. It got the popular name "Dumbell Nebula" from its appearance in the crude telescopes of the 18th century. It is a planetary nebula, and one of the largest of the planetaries visible from earth. M27 measures 8 arc-minutes by 5.7 arc-minutes. It was the first planetary nebula to be discovered by Messier.
The Dumbell Nebula is located 1,250 light-years away. The actual size of the nebula is about 2-1/2 light years across. The nebula was formed by the ejection of gas from a dying star. At its current expansion rate of about 17 miles per second, the nebula would have an age of about 48,000 years. The star that expelled the nebula gasses has now evolved to a very hot bluish dwarf with a surface temperature of about 85,000 degrees Kelvin. This star is the source of illumination for the nebula, and its strong ultraviolet radiation excites the expelled gasses causing them to fluoresce.
This image was taken with a Takahashi FS-128 refractor and an ST-8 CCD.
M27 (NGC 6853)
RA: 19h 59m 30.9s Dec: +22d 42' 41"
October 17, 1998
Image by Sid Leach
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