Spitzer Images Messier 27 in the Infrared

Spitzer Infrared Image of Messier object M27
Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Harvard-Smithsonian CfA

NASA has released this new image of the “Dumbbell nebula,” also known as Messier 27. The image was taken in the Infrared by the Spitzer Space Telescope.

The object was discovered in 1764 by Charles Messier. It was the 27th object he named in his catalog of nebulous objects.

The Dumbbell nebula is located in the constellation Vulpecula, which is about 1,360light years away from Earth. The gaseous debris from the dying star is spread across 4.5 light years of space. The white dwarf at the center of the nebula was a sun-like star. After a lifetime of 9-10 billion years, it bloats and expels much of its material, now containing carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon and other heavy elements, into interstellar space. These elements are recycled in the next generation of stars and planets.

The diffuse green glow, which is brightest near the center, is probably from hot gas atoms being heated by the ultraviolet light from the central white dwarf.


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