crab supernova

Crab Nebula in technicolor! This new composite view combines data from five different telescopes, showing the celestial object in multiple kinds of light.

The video starts with a composite image of the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant that was assembled by combining data from five telescopes spanning nearly the entire breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum: the Very Large Array, the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope, the XMM-Newton Observatory, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. 

It then dissolves to the red-colored radio-light view that shows how a neutron star’s fierce “wind” of charged particles from the central neutron star energized the nebula, causing it to emit the radio waves. 

The yellow-colored infrared image includes the glow of dust particles absorbing ultraviolet and visible light. 

The green-colored Hubble visible-light image offers a very sharp view of hot filamentary structures that permeate this nebula. 

The blue-colored ultraviolet image and the purple-colored X-ray image shows the effect of an energetic cloud of electrons driven by a rapidly rotating neutron star at the center of the nebula.

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Spectacular New Crab Nebula Images Close In On Its Final Secrets

“However, one significant problem remains with the nebula: the masses don’t add up. By looking in all these different wavelengths, we can calculate/estimate the mass of the Crab Nebula, and arrive at a figure of about two-to-five solar masses. The neutron star at the core is likely no more than two solar masses, and yet it should be impossible to have a supernova unless your progenitor star is at least eight times the mass of the Sun.”

The Crab Nebula is one of the most interesting and compelling objects in the entire night sky. In the year 1054, a supernova went off in the constellation of Taurus, where it became brighter than anything other than the Sun and Moon in the sky. Some 700 years later, astronomers discovered the remnant of that supernova: the Crab Nebula. For nearly a millennium, it’s been expanding at 0.5% the speed of light, and the nebula now spans more than 11 light years across. With a neutron star at its core and a shell with incredibly intricate structures, it’s one of our greatest cosmic clues to where the Universe’s enriched, heavy elements came from.

With the advent of a new, five-wavelength composite, we’re seeing this nebula as never before, and closing in on the last of this supernova’s puzzles.

NASA’s Hubble Captures the Beating Heart of the Crab Nebula

Peering deep into the core of the Crab Nebula, this close-up image reveals the beating heart of one of the most historic and intensively studied remnants of a supernova, an exploding star. The inner region sends out clock-like pulses of radiation and tsunamis of charged particles embedded in magnetic fields.

The neutron star at the very center of the Crab Nebula has about the same mass as the sun but compressed into an incredibly dense sphere that is only a few miles across. Spinning 30 times a second, the neutron star shoots out detectable beams of energy that make it look like it’s pulsating.

The NASA Hubble Space Telescope snapshot is centered on the region around the neutron star (the rightmost of the two bright stars near the center of this image) and the expanding, tattered, filamentary debris surrounding it. Hubble’s sharp view captures the intricate details of glowing gas, shown in red, that forms a swirling medley of cavities and filaments. Inside this shell is a ghostly blue glow that is radiation given off by electrons spiraling at nearly the speed of light in the powerful magnetic field around the crushed stellar core.

Credits: NASA/ESA & Hubble

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New Insights Into the Crab Nebula

Five observatories teamed up to spy on the Crab Nebula and the results are incredible. The VLA (radio) views are shown in red; Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared) in yellow; Hubble Space Telescope (visible) in green; XMM-Newton (ultraviolet) in blue; and Chandra X-ray Observatory (X-ray) in purple.

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8 Facts About Nebulae

1. Nebulae are a mixture of the gases hydrogen and helium, as well as dust and plasma.

2. The beautiful pictures of nebulae that the Hubble telescope beams down are actually three different channels of black and white, which are mixed and painted by scientists to produce the vibrant colors we see in magazines and on television. (The layers are painted according to the composition of the different gasses within the specific nebula.)

3. The word nebula means “cloud” in Latin; indeed, nebulae are space. Variously, the meaning has also been given to mean “mist”; it’s fitting, because their varying appearances sometimes do look like a cloud of mist.

4. The galaxy Andromeda was initially believed to be a nebula before Edwin Hubble proved that Andromeda was actually a galaxy all its own in the 1920’s. Before then, it was believed that other galaxies were merely nebulas and that the universe only consisted of the Milky Way.

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Normally faint and elusive, the Jellyfish Nebula is caught in this alluring telescopic mosaic. The scene is anchored below by bright star EtaGeminorum, at the foot of the celestial twin, while the Jellyfish Nebula is the brighter arcing ridge of emission with tentacles dangling below and left 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 right. The Jellyfish Nebula is about 5,000 light-years away. At that distance, this narrowband composite image presented in the Hubble Palette would be about 300 light-years across.

Image Credit &Copyright: Eric Coles/NASA

this is not a horoscope thing

ARIES: contains the dwarf galaxy segue 2 which is a satellite galaxy of the milky way, discovered in 2009.

TAURUS: northwest of ζ tauri is m1, the crab nebula, a supernova remnant. the supernova occurred on july 4, 1054 and was bright enough to see throughout the day. 

GEMINI: the geminids meteor shower peaks during december 13-14 with a rate of approximately 100 meteors per hour, making it one of the most grand.

CANCER: most known for the open cluster m44, or the beehive cluster. it’s the nearest open cluster to us at approximately 520-610 light years.

LEO: ngc 3628, or sarah’s galaxy, is an unbarred spiral galaxy that was discovered in 1784. it’s part of the leo triplet, along with m65 and m66.

VIRGO: contains the first quasar to be identified as such, quasar 3c 273, and lies at the center of a giant elliptical galaxy. 

LIBRA: gliese 581 is a red dwarf star about 20 light years away with a planetary system of 3 known planets and 2 unconfirmed. for a time gliese 581 c was considered potentially habitable but has been dismissed as such. 

SCORPIUS: α scorpii, also known as antares “rival of mars” is a red supergiant star with a visual magnitude of +0.96, making it the 15th brightest star we can observe. it lies 550 light years away.

SAGITTARIUS: set along the milky way’s galactic center, sagittarius is rich with nebulae and star clusters. the lagoon nebula, the trifid nebula and ngc 6559 are often referred to as the sagittarius triplet. 

CAPRICORNUS: hcg 87 is a group of galaxies approximately 400 million light years away. it contains an elliptical galaxy and two spiral galaxies. 

AQUARIUS: gliese 876 is a red dwarf star 15 light years away with 4 known extrasolar planets to orbit. it’s the third nearest star to our solar system with known orbiting planets.

PISCES: 3c 31 is an active galaxy 237 million light years away. it contains jets that stream several millions of light years in both directions caused by a supermassive blackhole at its center. 

Cosmic Crab nebula

The Crab Pulsar, a city-sized, magnetized neutron star spinning 30 times a second, lies at the center of this tantalizing wide-field image of the Crab Nebula. A spectacular picture of one of our Milky Way’s supernova remnants, it combines optical survey data with X-ray data from the orbiting Chandra Observatory. The composite was created as part of a celebration of Chandra’s 15 year long exploration of the high energy cosmos. Like a cosmic dynamo the pulsar powers the X-ray and optical emission from the nebula, accelerating charged particles to extreme energies to produce the jets and rings glowing in X-rays. The innermost ring structure is about a light-year across. With more mass than the Sun and the density of an atomic nucleus, the spinning pulsar is the collapsed core of the massive star that exploded, while the nebula is the expanding remnant of the star’s outer layers. The supernova explosion was witnessed in the year 1054.

Image credit: NASA, Chandra X-ray Observatory, SAO, DSS

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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!

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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.

Image credit & copyright: César Blanco González