National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Subtle Halos about the Ring Nebula: Planetary Nebula M57


Subtle Halos about the Ring Nebula: Planetary Nebula M57

This is a picture of the planetary nebula M57 taken by Suprime-Cam. As can be seen in the picture on the right, M57 has a donut like structure which gives it the name “Ring Nebula.” But when we observed it with the Subaru Telescope, we could see that a second and third faint cloud of gas exist outside the bright ring (left picture).

The image of M57 which stands out the most in my memory is an image taken using photographic plates in a Schmidt camera. All I saw was a small ring shape alone in the wide field of view and thought, “Even though it is called a Messier Object, this is all there is?” But when I saw from the image of M57 taken by the newly completed Subaru Telescope that M57 conceals a complex, minute structure, I was deeply moved. This is a celestial object which makes us appreciate the power of an 8 meter class telescope.

Text by: Yutaka Komiyama (Subaru Telescope)
Translation by: Ramsey Lundock (NAOJ)