NASA Presents the Dumbbell Nebula as the Picture of the Day

NASA Presents the Dumbbell Nebula as the Picture of the Day

The Dumbbell Nebula is also known as Messier 27 (M27), and it’s a planetary nebula located in the constellation Vulpecula. It remains one of the most well-known and easily recognizable nebulae from the night sky, which means that it’s not mandatory to be the reincarnation of Tesla in order to recognize it. You just have to be a bit passionate about astronomy.

The name “Dumbbell Nebula” comes from the distinctive shape of the cosmic object, as you’ve probably already guessed, resembling that of a dumbbell or an hourglass.

Thanks to NASA’s new Picture of the Day for May 31, we can take another good look at the Dumbbell Nebula:

NASA explained:

Is this what will become of our Sun? Quite possibly. The first hint of our Sun’s future was discovered inadvertently in 1764. At that time, Charles Messier was compiling a list of diffuse objects not to be confused with comets. The 27th object on Messier’s list, now known as M27 or the Dumbbell Nebula, is a planetary nebula, one of the brightest planetary nebulae on the sky and visible with binoculars toward the constellation of the Fox (Vulpecula). It takes light about 1000 years to reach us from M27, featured here in colors emitted by sulfur (red), hydrogen (green) and oxygen (blue).

The Dumbbell Nebula is formed from the outer layers of a dying star, which have been expelled into space. The central star of the nebula, which is known as a white dwarf, represents the remnants of the original star’s core. The intense ultraviolet radiation emitted by the white dwarf is what causes the surrounding gas to glow, creating the beautiful colorful appearance that easily stands out.

The nebula spans an estimated 2.5 light-years in diameter, which means that it’s many times smaller than our Milky Way galaxy. The nebula is also located at a distance of approximately 1,360 light-years from Earth, which means that any plans of spending a vacation there should be canceled immediately. 


Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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