Astronomy Picture of the Day

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

July 29, 1995
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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

We keep an archive of Astronomy Pictures of the Day.
Astronomy Picture of the Day is created by Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell who are solely responsible for its content.