Planetary Nebula Are Spectacular [M27 Dumbbell Nebula]
Planetary Nebula M27

Planetary Nebula Are Spectacular [M27 Dumbbell Nebula]

Planetary Nebula take on beautiful shapes and colors. There’s one called the God’s Eye Nebula because it looks like an eye. Similarly, M27 the Dumbbell Nebula, is classified as a Planetary Nebula which by the way is misleading. Contrary to what it’s name suggests, it’s not the creation of planets but the death of a Sun like star and its entire system. Something like this is what our solar system will look like in the distant future. Exciting isn’t it!

Planetary Nebula M27
Planetary Nebula M27

Planetary Nebula: Red Giant Phase

In approximately 4.5 Billion years, our Sun will exhaust the last of it’s hydrogen fuel in its core. At that point the core is not producing enough heat to balance the gravitation pull in the core which cause the core to contract (get smaller). The outer shell of the Sun, which is mostly hydrogen, will continue to burn and expand approximately beyond the orbit of Earth. Yes this will be the fiery death of our planet (if we don’t do it sooner). At this point the Sun will become a Red Giant. And humanity has 4.5 Billion years to actually become the, Star Trek/Star Wars, space traveling version of humanity needed to survive.

Planetary Nebula: White Dwarf Phase

As a Red Giant, the Sun’s core is fusing Helium to Carbon. When this fuel runs out, the core collapses again and more forceful. This creates a White Dwarf Star and expels the outer layers into space. As the outer material expands further it creates a beautiful structure called a Planetary Nebula. You can see the white dwarf star in the center of the nebula. Humanity surviving all this is dependent on our ability to travel from star to star.

The Andromeda Effect

So at the same time our solar system will be undergoing this change, our galaxy, the Milky Way, will be in the process of merging with our nearest galaxy neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. Isn’t timing everything. If humanity survives to that point just imagine the sights (off planet of course). It’s also possible during this merger that our solar system will be ejected from the Milky Way. So much chaos at one time. Should be fun! What will humanity be like or able to do by this time is crazy to think about.

M31 Andromeda Galaxy
Messier 31 Andromeda Galaxy Telescope & Mount: Orion ST-80 with Astroview Mount Camera: Canon EOS XTi Guiding: None Location: Carrollton, VA Sky: Bortle Class 5Acquisition & Calibration: – Filter: None – APT (Astrophotography Tool) – ISO 1600 – 40 Light Frames @ 120 s – 62 Dark Frames @ 120 s – 19 Flat Frames – 60 Bias Frames – Total Integration Time: 80 minutes

How M27 Was Named

Designated M27 because it’s the 27th object catalogued by Charles Messier in 1764. It’s also called the Dumbbell Nebula or Apple Core Nebula because of it’s distinct shape. It is located in the constellation Vulpecula about 1227 light years away. This nebula is also between 10,000 to 15,000 years old.

How I captured this Planetary Nebula

Telescope & Mount: RRRT
Camera: Apogee Alta U-42, 2048×2048 with 13.5 micron pixels
Location: Fan Mountain, VA

Acquisition & Calibration:

- Sky Net Software
- Filter: Luminance, HA, OIII
- 8  frames Luminance @ 180 s
- 10 frames H-Alpha @ 180 s
- 9 frames OII @ 180 s
- Total Integration: 1 hour 21 minutes

Post Processing

- Deep Sky Stacker (Star Detection Threshold= 2%, Stacking Method: Sigma Clipping)
- StarTools
    ○ Compose
    ○ AutoDev
    ○ Crop
    ○ Wipe
    ○ AutoDev
    ○ Contrast
    ○ Deconvolution
    ○ Sharp
    ○ HDR 2X
    ○ Denoise
- Gimp
    ○ Curves
    ○ Noise Reduction
    ○ Unsharp Mask
    ○ Curves
    ○ Added Name

The sky is only the limit, when your mind is unwilling to fly. Go beyond!

Check out my Astrophotography Photobook!

Kevin Francis

Kevin Francis is a Mechanical Engineer by day, amateur Astrophotographer by night who is taking his Google Pixel smartphone camera to new limits.

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