Astronomy Picture of the Day: M27 (Not a Comet)

In France in the 18th century Astronomer Charles Messier was busy hunting comets, during his telescopic travels of the cosmos  Messier kept a concise list of all the interesting things that he saw which were not comets, Todays Astronomy Picture of the Day features number 27 of Messiers now famous not-a-comet list.

Modern amateur astronomers might recognise the beautiful, strangely symmetric feature as a planetary nebula, a planet forming area of space, but it’s not that either. Messier 27 (M27) is in fact a stunning example of a Gaseous Emission Nebula, created as a sun like star runs out of fuel in its core.

The nebula forms as the star contracts and it’s outer layers are ejected into space, glowing visibly as atoms are excited by the dying star’s intense but invisible UV light.

Also known by the popular name of the Dumbbell Nebula, the gas cloud is over 2.5 light years wide and at a distance of 1,200 light years away and is most definitely not a Comet!!

Image Credit & Copyright: Francesco di Biase Via APOD

Iain Buchanan

If you like your geeks to be humongous, real ale drinking, meat inhaling, obscure, surreal pogonophobes, then you my friend have come to the right blog. That's right, you read that correctly, I don't like beards. There are many things I do like, however, such as Playstation, Apple, Cribbage and pickled eggs. My first computer was an Acorn Electron, my first phone was a Motorola M3788, we backed the Betamax and my first regeneration was Baker to Davison. I love films, all films, but get a full geek-on for comic book & sci-fi movies and TV shows in particular. I adore Science and Space but most of all I love the sound of my own voice, so do please forgive me if I waffle.