Space.com's Image of the Day
The Dumbbell Nebula glows like a ghostly sphere, with a bluish star center illuminating a shell of interstellar gas.
Also known as M27, the Dumbbell Nebula is a bubble of gas spewed out from a star at the end of its lifetime. Skywatchers Joe and Gail Metcalf took this image of M27 at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona with the assistance of a professional.
The bluish star at the nebula’s center forms the object’s core, emitting light which illuminates the surrounding gas. Sitting about 1,000 light-years away, M27 has been estimated by astronomers to be about 3,500 years old. When observed with a small telescope, the nebula resembles the shape of a dumbbell or half-eaten apple, hence its name.
The Metcalfs were able to image M27’s full bubble appearance using a 20-inch RC Optical Systems telescope. Their observations were part of a nightly program led by Adam Block to assist amateur astronomers photograph objects with observatory telescopes.
-- SPACE.com Staff
Credit: Joe and Gail Metcalf/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF