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.
2023 November 9
Explanation: The Crab Nebula is cataloged as M1, the first object on Charles Messier's famous 18th century list of things which are not comets. In fact, the Crab is now known to be a supernova remnant, debris from the death explosion of a massive star witnessed by astronomers in the year 1054. This sharp image from the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) and MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) explores the eerie glow and fragmented strands of the still expanding cloud of interstellar debris in infrared light. One of the most exotic objects known to modern astronomers, the Crab Pulsar, a neutron star spinning 30 times a second, is visible as a bright spot near the nebula's center. Like a cosmic dynamo, this collapsed remnant of the stellar core powers the Crab's emission across the electromagnetic spectrum. Spanning about 12 light-years, the Crab Nebula is a mere 6,500 light-years away in the head-strong constellation Taurus.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC,
NASA Science Activation
& Michigan Tech. U.