The Crab Nebula is a six-light-year-wide expanding remnant of a star’s supernova explosion. Japanese and Chinese astronomers witnessed this violent event nearly 1,000 years ago in 1054.
The filaments are the tattered remains of the star and consist mostly of hydrogen. The rapidly spinning neutron star embedded in the centre of the nebula, only barely visible in this Hubble image, is the dynamo powering the nebula’s eerie interior bluish glow. The blue light comes from electrons whirling at nearly the speed of light around magnetic field lines from the neutron star. The neutron star, like a lighthouse, ejects twin beams of radiation that appear to pulse 30 times a second due to the neutron star's rotation. A neutron star is the crushed ultra-dense core of the exploded star.
Crab Nebula -- click for 1280×1280 image
Tags: Crab Nebula
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