Located 1,227 light-years from Earth is a beautiful planetary nebula called the Dumbbell Nebula. This nebula was actually the first planetary nebula discovered by Charles Messier in 1764. He is famous for publishing an astronomical catalogue that contained 110 nebulae and faint star clusters, which were known as Messier objects.
The first thing you notice is the gorgeous red which represents hydrogen and blue that represents oxygen gasses. This is also a great example of what the future of our Sun may look like after it runs the course of its life. The Dumbbell Nebula resulted from a star that turned into a red giant star. From here it eventually engulfed any planet or moon in its star system and then went supernova.
What’s fascinating is although this was discovered in the 18th century and we’ve learned so much about astronomy since then. There are still a lot of mysteries even within planetary nebulae like the Dumbbell Nebula. For one it’s a bipolar planetary nebula which just means its characterized by two lobes on the side of the central star. Astronomers still don’t know what causes these structures to form.
The only thing that’s left aside from a gorgeous planetary nebula is a hot white dwarf and an immense amount of X-rays.
If you’re new to stargazing and want to look at nebulae then the Dumbbell nebula is a great one to start with. It’s one of the most famous nebulae in the night sky because of its shape and beauty.
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