This little gem in a wide field of stars is the Little Dumbbell Nebula, the faintest object in the Messier catalogue.
Astrophotographer Ron Brecher took this image earlier this year from Guelph, Ontario.
"You can really get a sense of the vastness of space and the seemingly infinite number of stars out there," Brecher wrote in an email to Space.com.
The Little Dumbbell Nebula, or M76, is named after it's bigger, brighter neighbor, the Dumbbell Nebula. Located about 2.500 light-years away, the Little Dumbbell Nebula lies in the constellation Perseus. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).
Planetary nebula like these are caused by the cloud of dust around a central star blowing off into space, and is illuminated by radiation from the core. The red color is caused by Hydrogen accounts and mostly oxygen accounts for the blue-green.
"Stars at least 500 times fainter are scattered throughout this image, along with numerous faint and distant galaxies, each of them made of billions of stars," Brecher added.
Brecher used a SBIG STL-11000M camera with Baader LRGB filters, 10" f/6.8 ASA astrograph and Paramount MX to create this image. You can read more about on his website here.
You can see more amazing night sky photos by our readers in our astrophotography archive here.
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