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Avdhoeven

M57 the outer halo

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Ringnebula_m57_combi_hancock_hermann_hoeven-16062013_mod3.jpg

This image shows the ring nebula together with its very faint halo as imaged by 11″ and 12″ reflectors.

Credit: André van der Hoeven, Terry Hancock and Fred Herrmann

Like other old red giants M57, better known as the Ring nebula, has expelled most of its material in the form of hydrogen and oxygen. At its core lies the white dwarf remnant which consists mainly of carbon. The lighter hydrogen forms the outer reddish envelope while the heavier blue-green oxygen remains about the core. The gases in the expanding shell are illuminated by the radiation of the central white dwarf who’s glow is still 200 times brighter than our Sun.

Normally only M57’s main core is displayed as shown in this older Hubble image: : http://www.waid-obse...-12-HLA-839.jpg

When we look closely we see that M57 consists of three structures, the inner, bright and most familiar, nebula, which is about 86″ by 62″. This is surrounded by a second fainter halo ranging until about 156″ x 136″ from the central star. Surrounding these two there is a very faint third halo of about 3,8′ diameter. The brightnesses of these three halos differ a lot, the second ring being about 5x (2 magnitudes) fainter than the central ring, and the outermost being almost 5000x fainter than the central ring (>9 magnitudes fainter…).

Observation

The huge difference in brightness makes it very difficult to observe the halos. Using data from a C11 and two 12″ RC telescopes about 40 hours of data was gathered using narrowband h-alpha filters (3 and 5 nm) to lift the halo out of the background noise during a period of over 2 years (2011-2013). The barred spiral galaxy IC 1296 is also visible in the upper part of the image. IC 1296 distance is estimated to be 220 million light years.

This image was done as a collaboration by myself, Terry Hancock in Michigan, USA and Fred Herrmann from Alabama, USA.

Setups:

André: Celestron C11 with SXV-H9

Fred: Astro-tech 12″ RC with SBIG ST-8300

Terry: Astro-tech 12″ RC with QHY-9

Total exposures used:

H-alpha 1800s: 40x (André), 20x (Terry), 3600s: 4x (André), 5x (Fred)

RGB Red 16x 10 min, Green 12 x 10 min, Blue 11x 10 min (Terry)

Luminance 8x 15 min (Terry)

Total exposure time: 47.5 hours

The Ring nebula

Formed by a star throwing off its outer layers as it runs out of fuel, the Ring Nebula is an archetypal planetary nebula. It is both relatively close to Earth and fairly bright, and so was first recorded in the late 18th century. As is common with astronomical objects, its precise distance is not known, but it is thought to lie just over 2000 light-years from Earth.

From Earth’s perspective, the nebula looks roughly elliptical. However from research it turns out that the nebula is shaped like a distorted doughnut. We are gazing almost directly down one of the poles of this structure, with a brightly coloured barrel of material stretching away from us. Although the centre of this doughnut may look empty, it is actually full of lower density material that stretches both towards and away from us, creating a shape similar to a rugby ball slotted into the doughnut’s central gap.

The brightest part of this nebula is what we see as the colourful main ring. This is composed of gas thrown off by a dying star at the centre of the nebula. The diameter of the central ring is about 1 lightyear while the outer halo has a diameter of about 2.5 lightyears. This star is on its way to becoming a white dwarf — a very small, dense, and hot body that is the final evolutionary stage for a star like the Sun.

The central star has a temperature of about 100.000-120.000 K and sends out most of its radiation in UV. In the central ring nicely the degrading ionization of the surrounding gas can be seen. In the centre there is mostly blue-violet light, while surrounding it there is a green ring of OIII gas which needs a lower energy to transmit its light and at the outer edge of the central ring there is the low energetic red light of H-alpha.

The inner halo around M57 was only discovered in 1935 by J.C. Duncan using a 30 min image with the 2,5 m Hooker telescope. The discovery paper can be found here.

The outer most halo was only discovered when first space telescopes, like the Hubble, pointed at the Ring nebula.

The central ring has an estimated age of 5000-6000 years, while the outer most halo was probably released by the central star about 100.000 years ago, when it was still in its red giant phase.

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Wow, stunning detail that you don't normally see. Puts me in mind of the Poppy's we wear around remembrance day.

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Indeed stunning image for mundane scopes, thought it was hubble,

Nice processing too.

Mark

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That's simply awesome! Wow! The outer halo looks so very amazing! :)

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WOW! That is fantastic - really beautiful and well worth al those hours of imaging :)

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You see something new every day, and this was an eye opener for sure! Cracking job, and how did you manage to align the RC's so nicely?

/Jesper

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What a superb image - Fantastic processing of one of the more obscure targets I would say - Well done to you all!

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Andre, I think your post is a little premature. You really need to be much more patient - only 2 years worth of accumulated data!

Seriously though, this is right up there with the best M57 images ever, including those taken from space. Very well done. It's great to see the barred spiral too.

Brilliant work,

Jack

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You see something new every day, and this was an eye opener for sure! Cracking job, and how did you manage to align the RC's so nicely?

/Jesper

Pixinsight has a very nice alignment routine :)

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Cracking job!!! :) You got the galaxy in the background too! Stunning. Thanks for sharing - I love this object :)

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For some reason I believed that the spider vanes on the two RCs working from different locations wouldn't necessarily line up, and that a double set of diff spikes would appear. Not so :tongue:

/Jesper

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That is a seriously stunning image. Large aperture optics needed for this small object & tracking has to be spot on.

Fabulous :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

Steve

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Top drawer stuff guys, and a god example of how collaborative efforts work so well with tricky targets

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"and that's all from him.."

Well I don't think I need to image M57 anymore :D

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We haven't stopped working on the image. Two more dutch observers have shared their data with us, giving a total of over 100 hours of data. The result has improved dramatically thanks to this addition. I think this is more or less the maximum what is possible with this equipment:

M57_hancock_herrmann_hoeven_ippel_vdberg_framed.jpg

Setups:

André: Celestron C11 with SXV-H9

Fred: Astro-tech 12″ RC with SBIG STT-8300

Terry: Astro-tech 12″ RC with QHY-9

Mike: Planewave 12,5″ with SBIG ST-11000

Mathijn: Planewave 17″ with SBIG ST-11000

Total exposures used:

H-alpha 1800s: 40x (André), 20x (Terry), 36x (Mike), 3600s: 4x (André), 5x (Fred)

RGB Red 16x 10 min (Terry), 11x 30 min (Mathijn), Green 12 x 10 min (Terry), 11x 30 min (Mathijn), Blue 11x 10 min (Terry), 9x 30 min (Mathijn)

Luminance 8x 15 min (Terry), 39x 30 min (Mike)

Total exposure time: 104 hours

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Yup.. pretty much gobsmacked.

It looks like you have the curve of the initial explosion too.

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I've run out of superlatives - that is absolutely wonderful, a real beauty :)

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