University Lowbrow Astronomers

Deep Sky Astronomy Pictures
[M-27 The Dumbbell Nebula]

This page contains images produced by members of the University Lowbrow Astronomers.

by Mike Radwick
Printed in Reflections: September, 2010.


Here is some info about the picture which folks may be interested in:

The object you are looking at is popularly called the Dumbbell Nebula. It was discovered in 1764 by french astronomer Charles Messier. The cloud is actually gas from a star which evolved very much like our own sun. In this case, the star has died (no longer fusing elements to make energy). In the process, the star’s core collapsed to become what is called a white dwarf (visible in the very center of the cloud), and the rest was blown away by the heat of the core to make a very large cloud (the field you are seeing is much, much larger than the size of our solar system). The cloud itself is not glowing on it own however. Instead, the (dead) star at the center is still generating a lot of light, much of it is ultraviolet. The light then heats the gas, causing it to fluoresce just like a fluorescent light bulb, but on a huge scale. Dust and other matter in the cloud absorbs some of the light, causing some of the color and dark areas.

The images were taken over two nights (July 29 and Aug 5) at John Causland’s house. I used my 14.5 inch StarMaster telescope as the “lens”, which was guided with a 66mm William Optics telescope using a Meade DSI camera (one night) and a Orion Starshoot guider the second night. The free software PHD-Guiding in combination with my own control software used used for guiding.

The final photo was obtained by combining 56 40-second images taken with an unmodified Canon 30D camera (at ISO 800). I used software called Deep-Sky-Stacker to combine the images, and finished the processing with Photoshop.

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