Hubble captures the beating heart of the Crab Nebula

July 7, 2016 by Ray Villard, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Crab Nebula. Credit: NASA and ESA, Acknowledgment: J. Hester (ASU) and M. Weisskopf (NASA/MSFC)

Peering deep into the core of the Crab Nebula, this close-up image reveals the beating heart of one of the most historic and intensively studied remnants of a supernova, an exploding star. The inner region sends out clock-like pulses of radiation and tsunamis of charged particles embedded in magnetic fields.

The neutron star at the very center of the Crab Nebula has about the same mass as the sun but compressed into an incredibly dense sphere that is only a few miles across. Spinning 30 times a second, the neutron star shoots out detectable beams of energy that make it look like it's pulsating.

The NASA Hubble Space Telescope snapshot is centered on the region around the neutron star (the rightmost of the two bright stars near the center of this image) and the expanding, tattered, filamentary debris surrounding it. Hubble's sharp view captures the intricate details of glowing gas, shown in red, that forms a swirling medley of cavities and filaments. Inside this shell is a ghostly blue glow that is radiation given off by electrons spiraling at nearly the speed of light in the powerful magnetic field around the crushed stellar core.

The neutron star is a showcase for extreme physical processes and unimaginable cosmic violence. Bright wisps are moving outward from the neutron star at half the speed of light to form an expanding ring. It is thought that these wisps originate from a shock wave that turns the high-speed wind from the neutron star into extremely energetic particles.

When this "heartbeat" radiation signature was first discovered in 1968, astronomers realized they had discovered a new type of astronomical object. Now astronomers know it's the archetype of a class of supernova remnants called pulsars - or rapidly spinning . These interstellar "lighthouse beacons" are invaluable for doing observational experiments on a variety of astronomical phenomena, including measuring gravity waves.

Observations of the Crab supernova were recorded by Chinese astronomers in 1054 A.D. The nebula, bright enough to be visible in amateur telescopes, is located 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Taurus.

Explore further: What spawned the Jellyfish Nebula?

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1 / 5 (3) Jul 09, 2016
That object has a external surface magnetic field off it iron atom imprinted crust from its nova, and gravity capturing any free electrons, but the excess of gravity bound electrons in orbit around the mass held by gravity is so great the surface field can not accommodate electron exchange so the result is a separate orbiting electron field , a star with two magnetic fields moving against each other in field envelopment
1 / 5 (3) Jul 10, 2016
The outer gravity orbiting electron field is squeezing the inner surface magnetic field producing those electron jets off the poles of star
1 / 5 (3) Jul 10, 2016
In a neutron star you have a finite number of iron atoms on the surface, and electrons can only mechanically exchange so many electrons in this number in time, so an super abundance of excessive electrons is just orbiting the mass held by gravity around this surface magnetic field
1 / 5 (3) Jul 10, 2016
Your artists picture does not represent the true mechanical picture ,the field of electrons does not pass thru the mass's center ,it on the surface, with a shroud electron field encompassing that surface field with two different speeds of orbits between those fieds
1 / 5 (3) Jul 10, 2016
The Crab Nebula is an example of a dense plasma focus, hence the correct physics to consider involve plasma discharge phenomena.
1 / 5 (3) Jul 10, 2016
Any atom drawn into the neutron stars environment from gravity,those atoms heat up making it impossible to maintain there orbiting electrons around them for protection of the nucleus and this nucleus's get beaten apart by high velocity electron collisions those high energy positively charge proton particles get ejected in those beams from the shrouds field mechanical squeezing of the surface field out those pole areas of the mass
1 / 5 (3) Jul 10, 2016
All those protons and their high energy positively charged particles being beaten apart are saturated in the surface magnetic field environment, making an attraction magnetically to the shroud field making the mechanical squeeze between those fields , along with gravity
1 / 5 (1) Jul 10, 2016
Constructed intact atoms and their nuclei can not exist inside the surface magnetic field of the neutron star, the nuclei lose their orbiting electrons and the nuclei come apart to form a particle plasma orbiting inside that surface magnetic field in high velocity kinetic collisions, beating those neutrons and protons into more electrons,positive electrons and photons, a super hot particle plasma in orbit around the equator of the mass held in a dual field magnetic bubble and gravity producing super high temperatures that releases that plasma at its poles for temperature control in its mechanics

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