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M27 is a relatively bright planetary nebula in the obscure constellation Vulpecula. Having the appearance of a BMW symbol, it is popularly called the 'dumbbell nebula'.

Although it has a totally different look to the nearby M57 ring nebula, the three dimensional shape of both nebulas is actually more or less the same -we just see them from differnet angles.

Like M57, M27 is an expanding cloud of gas thrown off by a red giant star at the end of its most active phase and now contains a white dwarf star.


M27 the Dumbbell Nebula. Note the faint outer circle of red oxygen around the blue hydrogen cloud.