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.
November 22, 1999
The Crab Nebula, filled with mysterious filaments, is the result of a
star that was seen to explode in 1054 AD.
This spectacular supernova explosion was recorded by Chinese and (quite probably) Anasazi Indian astronomers.
The filaments are mysterious because they appear
to have less mass than expelled in the original supernova
and higher speed than expected from a free explosion.
In the above picture taken recently from a
Very Large Telescope,
the color indicates what is happening to the electrons in different
parts of the Crab Nebula.
Red indicates the electrons are recombining with protons to form neutral hydrogen,
while blue indicates the electrons are whirling around the magnetic field
of the inner nebula.
nebula's very center lies a pulsar: a neutron star rotating, in this case, 30 times a second.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.