THE RING NEBULA, A COSMIC FLOWER IN HUBBLE HD!
Photo By: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, The Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona as well as C. Robert O’Dell of Vanderbilt University and David Thompson of the LBT (Links & Videos below).
This is the second post in a two part post highlighting new data gleaned through the Hubble Space Telescope and Large Binocular Telescope. In this photo you see not only the main elliptical body of the Ring Nebula as delivered by Hubble but thanks to the infrared observations of the Large Binocular Telescope we can see the petals of what’s known as the Ring Nebula’s Outer Halo. This feature is a vast expanse of turbulent material that was “puffed” out very early in the stars dying process. In its current state it stretches nearly 3 light years in diameter. Keep in mind the entire diameter of the orbit of Pluto is just under 1 light day at its furthest points.
NAME?: Messier 57, M57, NGC 6720, Ring Nebula.
WHAT IS IT?: Planetary Nebula.
HOW BIG IS IT?: Main body of the structure is about 1 light year in diameter as we see it or 1.5 x 1 arcminutes on the night sky (The Moon and Sun are 0.5 degrees or 30 arcminutes). The entire structure including the outer halo stretches nearly 3 light years.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Approximately 2000 light years distant.
APPARENT MAGITUDE?: 8.8 or +8.8 which for small telescopes is an easy view. The White Dwarf star at center is a dim 14.5 or +14.5 which makes it difficult to resolve.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Lyra just south of the star Vega. In the summer sky, the stars Vega, Deneb and Altair create the famous asterism known as the Summer Triangle. Knowing this makes the Ring Nebula an easy to find target even in non-computerized telescopes.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 18h 53m 35s / DEC +33° 01’ 45.03”.
NASA Hubblesite News Center page for this photo: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2013/13
NASA Hubblesite News Center PHOTO RELEASE PAGE: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2013/13/image/
Large Binocular Telescope website: http://www.lbto.org/index.htm
NASA / ESA video of a Ring Nebula fly-around:
NASA / ESA Hubblecast Episode 66: