Astronomy Picture of the Day
    


The Spinning Pulsar of the Crab Nebula
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The Spinning Pulsar of the Crab Nebula
Credit & Copyright: NASA: X-ray: Chandra (CXC), Optical: Hubble (STScI), Infrared: Spitzer (JPL-Caltech)
Explanation: At the core of the Crab Nebula lies a city-sized, magnetized neutron star spinning 30 times a second. Known as the Crab Pulsar, it is the bright spot in the center of the gaseous swirl at the nebula's core. About twelve light-years across, the spectacular picture frames the glowing gas, cavities and swirling filaments near the Crab Nebula's center. The featured picture combines visible light from the Hubble Space Telescope in purple, X-ray light from the Chandra X-ray Observatory in blue, and infrared light from the Spitzer Space Telescope in red. Like a cosmic dynamo the Crab pulsar powers the emission from the nebula, driving a shock wave through surrounding material and accelerating the spiraling electrons. With more mass than the Sun and the density of an atomic nucleus,the spinning pulsar is the collapsed core of a massive star that exploded. The outer parts of the Crab Nebula are the expanding remnants of the star's component gasses. The supernova explosion was witnessed on planet Earth in the year 1054.

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Web Site Statements, Warnings, and Disclaimers
NASA Official: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.

Based on Astronomy Picture Of the Day

Publications with keywords: Crab Nebula - pulsar
Publications with words: Crab Nebula - pulsar
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