Planetary Nebula Stage

The first planetary nebula discovered (though not yet termed as such) was the Dumbbell Nebula in the constellation of Vulpecula. It was observed by Charles Messier in 1764 and listed as M27 in his catalogue of nebulous objects. To early observers with low-resolution telescopes, M27 and subsequently discovered planetary nebulae resembled the giant planets like Uranus. William Herschel, discoverer of Uranus, perhaps coined the term “planetary nebula”. However, in as early as January 1779, the French astronomer Antoine Darquier de Pellepoix described in his observations of the Ring Nebula, “a very dull nebula, but perfectly outlined; as large as Jupiter and looks like a fading planet”. Whatever the true origin of the term, the label “planetary nebula” became ingrained in the terminology used by astronomers to categorize these types of nebulae, and is still in use by astronomers today.