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Crab Nebula March 23, 2011

Posted by Marie in NASA, Nebula, Neutron star, Wonders of the Universe.
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I was watching the third episode of Wonders of the Universe on BBC 2 on Sunday evening, and adored the images of the Crab Nebula, and of the neutron star rotating at its centre.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Hester, A. Loll (ASU)

The Crab Nebula is the result of a supernova (a star exploding), which was seen on Earth in the year 1054.  It is around 10 light-years across.  In its centre is a pulsar: a neutron star as massive as the Sun but only the size of a small town.  The Crab Pulsar rotates about 30 times each second, and if you’re interested in what that actually sounds like, well here it is.

The television programme also contained images of the pulsar itself – although these are not exactly the same images as used in the programme, this video shows it just as well.  The blue images are in X-ray light, taken by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the red images are in optical light from the Hubble Space Telescope (credit: NASA/HST/CXC/SAO).

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