Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

July 29, 1995

M27: The Dumbbell Nebula
Credit: The Electronic Universe Project, Karen Gloria

Explanation: The Dumbbell Nebula is a beautiful red and blue planetary nebula in the constellation of Vulpecula. It is the 27th object on Charles Messier's list of diffuse sky objects, and so is referred to as M27. Its high surface brightness makes it a good target for small telescopes. The term planetary nebula, used to describe this general class of objects, is misleading. Although these objects may appear round and planet-like in small telescopes, astronomers have determined them to be stars surrounded by cocoons of gas blown off in the late stages of evolution.

For more information on M27 see The Electronic Universe Project's write-up.

Many images of Messier objects can be found in The Electronic Universe Project's The Galaxy Gallery: Messier Objects.

Tomorrow's picture: Saturn's Rings

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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