Waid Observatory

Object: M57
Date: 7/19/2011   -   Location: Denton, TX
Telescope:  C14   Mount: MI-250   Filters:  AstroDon Tru-Balance CRGB & 6nm Ha
Camera: ST-10XME   Exposure: L = 60 min.  R, G & B = 30 min. each   Ha = 195 min.
Click on the image to view at higher resolution.


M57 - The Ring Nebula

M 57 - The Ring Nebula 1

Discovered by Antoine Darquier de Pellepoix in 1779.

The famous Ring Nebula (M57) is often regarded as the prototype of a planetary nebula, and a showpiece in the Northern Hemisphere summer sky.  Recent research has confirmed that M57 is, most probably, a ring (torus) of bright light-emitting material ejected from its central star.  Our view of M57 is from a polar vantage point.  We therefore are looking down the axis of a cylinder of ejected gas.  The cylinder is thought to be much more complex than what one would think of as a tube or pipe.  The nebula is most probably a bi-polar nebula consisting of two lobes emanating from a narrowed “waist”.  The nebula consists of a very bright ring of gas and also a very faint “halo” of gas that was emitted during the central star’s red giant stage.  The faint halo is usually visible only in long exposure images taken through a hydrogen alpha filter.  The image above is a composite of “visible light” images and a hydrogen alpha image.  The Ha image can be viewed here and better displays the faint outer halo of gases.  Dr. Robert Gendler has a very good and detailed article describing this complex celestial object.  A link to the article is below and is, in my opinion, one of the best descriptions of this wonderful celestial vista.


Copyright Donald P. Waid