2006 October 26
Explanation: The Crab Nebula is catalogued as M1, the first object on Charles Messier's famous list of things which are not comets. In fact, the Crab is now known to be a supernova remnant, expanding debris from the death explosion of a massive star. This intriguing false-colour image combines data from space-based observatories, Chandra, Hubble, and Spitzer, to explore the debris cloud in x-rays (blue-purple), optical (green), and infrared (red) light. One of the most exotic objects known to modern astronomers, the Crab Pulsar, a neutron star spinning 30 times a second, is the bright spot near picture centre. Like a cosmic dynamo, this collapsed remnant of the stellar core powers the Crab's emission across the electromagnetic spectrum. Spanning about 12 light-years, the Crab Nebula is 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Taurus.
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