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Messier 27 - the Dumbbell Nebula in the constellation Fox (Vulpecula)- Widefield

Object description:

Messier 27 (NGC 6853) - is a large planetary nebula in the constellation Vulpecula. The central star is a white dwarf with a brightness of the 14th magnitude class and a temperature well above 100 000 degrees Kelvin.

Like many other planetary nebulae M 27 shows a bipolar structure which can be compared with a dumbbell. The term "planetary nebula" goes back to Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel, because during his observations of such objects the telescope view appeared to him similar to the planetary disk of Uranus. The name Dumbbell comes from the English astronomer John Herschel, who observed the nebula in 1828 and compared its shape to that of a dumbbell. A smaller bipolar nebula - NGC 6302, the Butterfly Nebula - we show here.

The nebula expands with nearly 7 arc seconds per century. Its distance is given with about 1400 lightyears and its true diameter with 3 lightyears. Calculating back the 7 arcseconds and assuming that the velocity of the nebular masses has changed only insignificantly, the age of M27 is about 11 000 years. Thus it has about the same age as the Helix Nebula - NGC 7293 - whose image we show here.

The Dumbbell Nebula was discovered by Charles Messier on July 12, 1764. We show a higher resolution image here. There you will also find a very detailed object description.

« Click here or the thumbnail to load a large annoted image and a size comparison to the full moon.

The comparison below shows to scale the apparent sizes of the planetary nebulae, left: NGC 7293 (12.8 arcminutes), center: Messier 27 (5.8 arcminutes) and right: IC 5148 (2.0 arcminutes). Total exposure time NGC 7293: 240 min, Messier 27: 130 min and IC 5148: 180 min.

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