ASTRONOMERS PIECE TOGETHER STUNNING IMAGE OF THE CRAB NEBULA
Thousands of years ago, thousands of light-years from Earth in the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way, a supergiant star exploded in spectacular fashion. The explosion was so violent that when the light from it reached Earth in 1054, it outshone all the stars and planets in the sky.
In the 19th Century, following the invention of the telescope, the remnants of the event were identified by Anglo-Irish astronomer William Parsons. It became known as the Crab Nebula thanks to the unusual shape of the sketch Parsons made of it. Now, using data from five different telescopes, astronomers have produced an image that shows the nebula in spectacular, unprecedented detail.
The image is a composite of data that spans almost the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves detected by the Karl G Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to X-rays as seen by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, with infrared from the Spitzer Space Telescope, visible light courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope and ultraviolet from ESA’s X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (also known as XMM-Newton) in-between. It is hoped that analysis of all this different data will help astronomers gain new insights into the complex physics of the nebula.
“Comparing these new images, made at different wavelengths, is providing us with a wealth of new detail about the Crab Nebula,” said astronomer Gloria Dubner. “Though the Crab has been studied extensively for years, we still have much to learn about it.”
This image was created using data from five telescopes