NASA’s composite image of the Crab Nebula

A star’s spectacular death in the constellation Taurus was observed on Earth as the supernova of 1054 A.D. Now, almost a thousand years later, a super dense object — called a neutron star — left behind by the explosion is seen spewing out a blizzard of high-energy particles into the expanding debris field known as the Crab Nebula. X-ray data from Chandra provide significant clues to the workings of this mighty cosmic “generator,” which is producing energy at the rate of 100,000 suns.

This composite image uses data from three of NASA’s Great Observatories. The Chandra X-ray image is shown in blue, the Hubble Space Telescope optical image is in red and yellow, and the Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared image is in purple. The X-ray image is smaller than the others because extremely energetic electrons emitting X-rays radiate away their energy more quickly than the lower-energy electrons emitting optical and infrared light. Along with many other telescopes, Chandra has repeatedly observed the Crab Nebula over the course of the mission’s lifetime. The Crab Nebula is one of the most studied objects in the sky, truly making it a cosmic icon.

Back in 1054 – this scared the Beejeebus out of your everyday superstitious supplicant. Couldn’t happen today – right?

2 thoughts on “NASA’s composite image of the Crab Nebula

  1. Passerby says:

    “The Crab Nebula (catalogue designations M1, NGC 1952, Taurus A) is a supernova remnant and pulsar wind nebula in the constellation of Taurus. The nebula was first observed by John Bevis in 1731, and corresponds to a bright supernova recorded by Chinese and Arab astronomers in 1054.”

    Not superstitious supplicants, sir. These were wise men of learning in their respective royal courts (Koreans having even better astronomical records than the Chinese). These astronomers and mathematicians would pass on their knowledge to the West, eventually.

    • eideard says:

      I’m sorry if you thought I was so characterizing the astronomers. Of course, there was an understanding of the mathematical character of what they observed.

      My reference was to the religious types who ignored science – and led their flocks in fear. It is generally presumed that European astronomers ignored publication of the sighting for fear of the Inquisition, arrest as heretics..

      I wouldn’t call a scientist of most periods in recorded history “everyday superstitious supplicants”.

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