Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bubble Nebula and M 52

Click on image for a larger view

The Bubble Nebula, lower left, and the Star Cluster M 52, at upper right, create a beautiful contrasting duet of deep sky objects in the constellation Cassiopeia.

M 52 can be seen as a fuzzy patch in a pair of binoculars, but it takes a telescope to resolve about 200 stars in Cassiopeia's rich starry field.

Click on image for a larger view

The Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) looks like a tiny soap bubble, but this bubble is six light years in diameter.  It definitely takes a telescope to detect it.  The bright star, upper right of the bubble's center, is 40 times the mass of our sun.  High energetic winds from this star blow the surrounding gas into a glowing shell.  In time, the star will explode into a supernova, pierce the bubble and scatter it and its surrounding further out into space.  Something we may be able to see even without a telescope.

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