crab supernova


The CRAB nebula is a supernova remnant in the constellation Taurus. It is 6500 light years from Earth and is located in the Milky Way.

It has an apparent magnitude (brightness) of 8.4, which is comparable to Saturn’s moon Titan. It isn’t visible to the naked eye, however with the right conditions, it can be seen with binoculars.

In yesterday’s post, I discussed that at the center of the Cat’s Eye Nebula there is a white dwarf. However, in this supernova remnant, there’s something different. In the center of this nebula, there’s something called Crab Pulsar- a neutron star spinning at a rate of 30.2 times per second. At these speeds, the spinning neutron star creates a lot of radiation, which ionizes the particles from the remnant supernova (which is why we see the colours!).

Since the radiation coming from the nebula is so strong, astronomers can use it to help study objects that occult (block) the nebula. An example of this is when they were studying Titon’s atmosphere. They measured the amount of radiation that was able to reach the other side (Earth!) of its atmosphere. The difference between the amount that started (the amount at the Crab Nebula) and the amount that reached Earth, told scientists about the thickness of Titans atmosphere.

Got any other facts/questions about the Crab Nebula? Send me a message and we can talk about it! Stay tuned for tomorrow, it’s the last post of week 2!


The Crab Nebula’s Heartbeat, As Seen By Hubble And Chandra

“The visually stunning filaments in the outer regions exhibit shocks and instabilities, growing relatively slowly. But the inner region contains the most rapidly moving material, accelerated by electrons moving at nearly the speed of light.”

Nearly 1,000 years ago, in 1054, a massive star in the constellation of Taurus, invisible at some 6,500 light years away, exploded in a type II supernova. Today, its remnant measures 10 light years across, while its inner core has a rapidly spinning neutron star that rotates in a mere 30 milliseconds. Hubble and Chandra not only reveal the nebular structure, but also show the inner, pulsing region, revealing matter accelerated by electrons moving at nearly the speed of light. It’s a beautiful show unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

Sharpless 249 and the Jellyfish Nebula : Normally faint and elusive, the Jellyfish Nebula is caught in this alluring telescopic mosaic. The scene is anchored right and left by two bright stars, Mu and Eta Geminorum, at the foot of the celestial twin while the Jellyfish Nebula is the brighter arcing ridge of emission with dangling tentacles below and right of center. In fact, the cosmic jellyfish is part of bubble-shaped supernova remnant IC 443, the expanding debris cloud from a massive star that exploded. Light from the explosion first reached planet Earth over 30,000 years ago. Like its cousin in astrophysical waters the Crab Nebula supernova remnant, the Jellyfish Nebula is known to harbor a neutron star, the remnant of the collapsed stellar core. An emission nebula cataloged as Sharpless 249 fills the field at the upper left. The Jellyfish Nebula is about 5,000 light-years away. At that distance, this narrowband composite image would be about 300 light-years across. via NASA