Astronomy Picture of the Day
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November 23, 1995
M1: Polarization of the Crab
Caltech, David Malin, Jay
The Crab Nebula resulted from a star that
exploded - a
supernova. Although the stellar explosion
that caused the
Crab Nebula was seen over 900 years ago, the
nebula itself still expands and shines. Much of the emitted light has been
found to be
Light waves with the same polarization vibrate in the same plane.
Light waves can be polarized by reflection from a surface, an effect familiar
to sunglass wearing fishermen and skiers.
Polarized light can also be emitted by
regions that contain strong magnetic fields.
Areas of different polarization above are
highlighted by different colours.
polarization helps astronomers decipher which
physical processes create the
Tomorrow's picture: Saturn's Moon Tethys
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