Astronomy Picture of the Day
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"Nebula at the right foot
... " begins the description
for the 76th object in Charles Messier's 18th century Catalog
Nebulae and Star Clusters
one of the fainter objects on the Messier list and
is also known by the popular name of the "Little Dumbbell Nebula".
Like its brighter
(the Dumbbell Nebula), M76 is recognized
- a gaseous shroud cast off by a
dying sunlike star
The nebula itself is thought to be shaped more like a donut, while its
due to our nearly edge-on view.
Gas expanding more rapidly away from the donut hole produces the
faint loops of far flung material.
The nebula's dying star can be picked out in
this sharp color image
the bottom, blue-tinted member of the double star near the center
of the box-like shape.
Distance estimates place M76 about 3 to 5 thousand light-years away,
making the nebula over a
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