Astronomy Picture of the Day

Crab Nebula Mosaic from HST

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Crab Nebula Mosaic from HST


The Crab Nebula is cataloged as M1, the first object on
famous list of things which are not comets.

In fact, the
cosmic Crab
is now known to be a
supernova remnant,
an expanding cloud of debris from the death explosion of a massive star.

Light from that stellar catastrophe was first
by astronomers
on planet Earth in the year 1054.

Composed of 24
taken in October 1999, January 2000,
and December 2000, this
Hubble Space Telescope mosaic spans about six light years.

Colors in the intricate filaments trace the light emitted from atoms
of hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur in the debris cloud.

The spooky blue interior glow is emitted by high-energy electrons
accelerated by the
Crab's central pulsar.

One of the most exotic objects known to modern astronomers,
the pulsar is
a neutron star, the spinning remnant of the
collapsed stellar core.

The Crab Nebula lies about 6,500 light-years away in the

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