Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2018 March 17
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-white), optical (purple), and infrared (pink) 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.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.