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M57 Ring Nebula with outer halos


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The bright central core of the Ring Nebula, M57, is a famous planetary nebula easily observed in a small telescope.  It’s the remnants of a dying star, shedding material into space.  Recently though I set myself the challenge of capturing the much less often imaged outer halos of M57.  With a lot of deep narrowband exposure time over 4 different nights and almost as much processing afterwards, I was very happy to have achieved this.

The inner halo (discovered in 1935) surrounds the familiar bright core and is around 5 times fainter than it.  The outer halo is some 5000 times fainter than the central ring and was only recently discovered when space telescopes like Hubble were pointed at the object.  You can make out faint wisps of this to the left and below the inner halo in particular. The galaxy in the top right is IC 1296, some 220 million light years away.

The image is a combination of LRGB broadband filters for the bright core and Ha and Oiii narrowband filters for the outer halos, for a total of over 18 hours imaging time.  As the object is very small I used the 2x drizzle function in DSS. Each stack was then processed separately and then combined in photoshop for further processing.

For other astro photos follow my instagram @sportysi:

Image details:
Lum - 26 x 3 mins 
Red – 19 x 3 mins
Green 24 x 3 mins
Blue – 25 x 3 mins
Ha – 30 x 20 mins
Oiii – 12 x 20 mins
Total image time: 18 hours 42 mins
Skywatcher MN190 / Atik 460ex
Guided with ZWO ASI 224 MC / phd2
Data captured with Sequence Generator Pro
Stacked with DSS using 2x drizzle 
Aligned with Registar
Processed with PS CS5


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