Saturday, November 13, 2004

M77 Galaxy

This galaxy is located in the Cetus (The Whale) constellation and is aproximately 60 million light years away. The photons that fell upon the ccd chip to make up this image were created around the time that dinosaurs roamed the Earth!
This is a small spiral galaxy seen face on, one of the so called Seyfert galaxies, which in this case means it has a radio source probably caused by matter falling into a black hole. It is receding from us at about 1100 miles per second. Actually, saying this is a small galaxy is a misnomer. It looks small but in fact it is very large. When you include the outlying gasious areas, it's about 170,000 light years across, almost twice as large as our Milky Way.

This image was taken from my front driveway on 11/13/04 at 1:00 am est with my new atk-2hs webcam. The small image below is with false color added. The negative image beside it shows that M77 is larger than it first appears and in fact, its gasious envelope is almost as big as the galaxy itself.

Techno Stuff: 11/13/04 at 1:00am est (6:00am ut), LX-90 8"
sct, baader ir, atk-2hs, gain 100% gamma 0% saturation 50%
brightness 50% white balance-outside, 22 frames out of 70
processed in k3ccdtools, registax and photoshop, dark
frames used

Friday, November 12, 2004

M27 the Dumbell Nebula and Goldilocks

M27 has the distinction of being the first planetary nebula ever discovered, by Charles Messier on July 12, 1764. It's interesting to note that we are seeing this nebula face on rather than edge on. If we were to see it edge on it would probably look very similar to M57 the Ring Nebula (see my Archives: 8/8/04-8/14/04 on the left). This is a relatively young nebula being only 3000 to 4000 years old.

It also contains on its outskirts a variable star, referred to as the 'Goldilocks Variable' which was discovered by Leos Ondra. He found the variable quite by accident while looking at two different 1990 magazine covers that both featured a picture on their covers of M27. One picture had the variable star in it and the other did not even though the pictures were taken only a few months apart. Talk about serendipity! I've pointed out where the variable star is located with two arrows in the negative image above. So the fun part of all this is that in a matter of several months this star can actually disappear from view and then gradually brighten again. Now you see it, now you don't.

This has been one of the more difficult objects for me to image and I'm glad I was finally able to show this unique nebula.

NGC7635 The Bubble Nebula

The Bubble Nebula is an unusual planetary nebula located
on the edge of the constellation Cassiopeia. The central
star, which is hard to miss, is the largest star in this image
weighing in at 40 times the mass of our sun. Its extremely
strong stellar wind results in an ever expanding shockwave
that is so fast and powerful that it literally slams into previous
stellar ejections to form the ever expanding 'bubble' wall that
we see. The bubble is expanding at the rate of 2000 kilometers
a second or 4 million miles per hour.

The nebula itself is about 6 light years across which means
that the distance from the sun to our nearest star, Alpha
Centauri, would easily fit within it.

This image was made by merging two images in Photoshop -
the color image taken with a Toucam SC1.5 webcam and a
black and white image taken with an ATK-2HS webcam. The
2HS webcam has a higher resolution which allows us to see
the actual 'bubble' of the nebula more clearly. The b&w image
was taken during a full moon so as time goes by I'll try to
improve this photo by imaging during a dark sky night and
then recombine the images.

Techno Stuff: Color image with Toucam SC1.5, 9/13/04 at 4:20am est (9:20am ut), LX-90 8" sct, baader ir, gain 70%, gamma 30%, saturation 50%, brightness 50%, white balance-outside, 125 frames x 45.5 secs,60 frames out of 125 processed in k3ccdtools, registax and photoshop, dark frames used

Black & White image with ATK-2HS 10/1/04 at 12:47am est (5:47am ut), LX-90 8" sct, baader ir, 0.6 focal reducer, gain 70%, gamma 0%, saturation 50%, brightness 50%, white balance-outside, 128 frames x 23.5 secs, 65 frames out of 128 processed in k3ccdtools, registax and photoshop, dark frames used

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Scroll your mouse over the ring and watch it light up!