The Hubble Space Telescope looked closer into the heart of Crab Nebula to seize what lies in the center of the old supernova remnant.
A dead star spins in the center of the nebula. At 6,500 light-years distance from the Taurus constellation, the Crab Nebula was created after a supernova explosion. During the event, the materials contained by the massive star were dispersed in space at immense speeds. The remains got covered in a cloud of gas, bounded by a shock wave of energy disturbance.
The Crab Nebula offers one of the most beautiful images from space, with its bright stars and colorful gas casting incredible shapes into the deep dark cosmos.
The Oldest Known Supernova in the World
There are two ways a supernova is created. One is through accumulating materials over the limits of its mass and undergoing thermonuclear explosion. The second is when a massive star collapses inside after it stops to generate fusion energy.
The Crab Nebula was formed after a neutron star explosion. This type of star is created from neutrons, subatomic particles with no electric charge. It had a mass similar to the one of the Sun but compressed into just tens of miles. The remains of the neutron star spin inside the Crab Nebula with a speed of 30 rotations per second.
The supernova explosion that created the Crab Nebula was the first one to be recorded by human civilization. The story begins in 1054 AD, when a new star appeared in the sky, an object almost as bright as the moon. The Japanese, Chinese and Arab astronomers, documented the event and monitored the star just until it faded away after several years.
The Crab Nebula is the first object listed in the Messier Catalogue from the 18th century, along with the Halley’s Comet.
Hubble’s Deep Look into the Crab Nebula
The new image of the nebula combines three different photographs of the core of the formation, taken ten years apart. Each of them is represented in various colors, underlying a different aspect of the supernova remnant.
The neutron star produces extreme conditions in the surrounding environment. The nearby materials are moving incredibly fast, leaving a hue of colors in the photographs.
As for the ionized gas, Hubble shows it in a red swirl of filaments and cavities. The star remains are decorated in blue, displaying a glow made of the electrons that spiral in the magnetic field almost as fast as the speed of light.
The magnetic field attracts gas and space dust which are in turn rejected by the decaying star. As the supernova remain spins, two jets of material burst from the poles. When the streams are orientated towards the Earth, the astronomers can observe a blinking light in the sky.
Image Source: Wikipedia