Planetary Nebula

Messier 27 – Dumbbell Nebula

The Dumbbell Nebula (Messier 27) is a planetary nebula in the constellation Vulpecula, located approximately 1,360 light years away from Earth.

Messier 27, also known as the Dumbbell Nebula, is a beautiful and bright planetary nebula located in the constellation Vulpecula. Its distinctive shape resembles that of a dumbbell, with two lobes of gas and dust separated by a narrow central region. The nebula glows with a greenish-blue color, which is caused by the ionization of oxygen atoms in the nebula by the central star’s ultraviolet radiation. This central star is itself a white dwarf, the remnant of a star that has exhausted its nuclear fuel and shed its outer layers. The intricate details of the Dumbbell Nebula’s structure make it a favorite among astronomers and astrophotographers alike.

Position and region

Messier 27, also known as the Dumbbell Nebula, is located in the constellation Vulpecula. It is situated about 1,360 light-years away from Earth, making it one of the closest planetary nebulae to us. The nebula has an apparent magnitude of 7.5, making it easily visible through a small telescope. The region surrounding the Dumbbell Nebula is relatively devoid of other celestial objects, making it a prominent feature of the night sky.

Unique facts

  • It is one of the brightest planetary nebulae in our galaxy and can even be seen with the naked eye under very dark conditions.
  • M27 has an unusual dumbbell shape, which is thought to be due to bipolar gas outflows from the central star.
  • It contains two central stars, which are likely the result of a stellar merger and provide energy to the nebula.
  • M27 was discovered by Charles Messier in 1764 and was the first planetary nebula to be included in his famous catalog.

Brightness and size

Messier 27, also known as the Dumbbell Nebula, is a planetary nebula located in the constellation Vulpecula. It has a visual magnitude of 7.5, which makes it visible to the naked eye under dark skies. The nebula has an angular size of about 8 arcminutes, which corresponds to a linear diameter of about 2.5 light-years.

The Dumbbell Nebula has a bright central region surrounded by fainter outer shells that form a dumbbell-like shape. The central region has a diameter of about 1.4 arcminutes, while the fainter outer shells extend to about 4 arcminutes in diameter. The nebula’s apparent size makes it an excellent target for amateur astronomers using small to medium-sized telescopes. Its beauty and distinctive shape also make it a popular target for astrophotographers.

Names and numbers

  • Dumbbell Nebula
  • Messier 27 (M27) – Messier-Catalogue
  • NGC 6853 – New General Catalogue (NGC)