Skip to comments.Astronomy Picture of the Day 9-14-03
Posted on 09/13/2003 11:00:32 PM PDT by petuniasevan
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.
2003 September 14
Explanation: 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 differentparts 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. In the nebula's very center lies a pulsar: a neutron star rotating, in this case, 30 times a second.
|Right Ascension||05 : 34.5 (h:m)
|Declination||+22 : 01 (deg:m)
|Visual Brightness||8.4 (mag)
|Apparent Dimension||6x4 (arc min)
You can easily locate Taurus. It is rising into the winter skies and is where the incomparable M45, the Pleiades star cluster, is found.
Constellation Orion rises immediately after.
This should help (the constellations will be tilted left from their positions in this image as they rise):
Deep inside the nebula resides the pulsar, the remnant of the supernova of 1054.
What? You don't see the jets in the above photo? That's because they radiate principally in X-rays. See the Chandra X-ray image below:
Also see the 9-04-03 APOD for images and links to MOVIES of the Crab Nebula.