|The Ring Nebula M57 is a planetary nebula
located in Lyra at a distance of around 2,000 light years. Although appearing as a
flattened ring, the nebula is actually toroidal or possibly even cylindrical in shape; we simply happen to be looking
more or less down its pole.
Planetary nebulae are shells of gas shed by stars late in their life cycles after using up all of their nuclear fuel. The star then ejects a significant portion of its mass in a gaseous shell, which is illuminated by its extremely hot central star, which is just the core left from the original star. In this case, the central star is a magnitude 15.8 star with a surface temperature of 120,000 degrees Celsius.
ì Click on the image to open a high resolution version.
Here is a small thumbnail sized image taken with the same SBIG CCD camera on 30 August 2005 - it was meant to be a first experiment at LRGB colour combination, but turned out quite pretty. I intend to take a higher resolution colour image in the near future. In this image, each of L,R,G and B were exposed for 2x60 seconds.
Here is another image recorded during some remote operation testing: