Crab Nebula in Multiple Wavelengths
This highly detailed image of the Crab Nebula was assembled by combining data from five telescopes spanning nearly the entire breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum: The Very Large Array (radio) in red; Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared) in yellow; Hubble Space Telescope (visible) in green; XMM-Newton (ultraviolet) in blue; and Chandra X-ray Observatory (X-ray) in purple.
The Hubble visible-light image offers a very sharp view of hot filamentary structures that permeate this nebula. The infrared image includes the glow of dust particles absorbing ultraviolet and visible light, and re-radiating at lower energies (longer wavelengths) in the infrared. An energetic cloud of electrons driven by a rapidly rotating neutron star, or pulsar, at its core glows brightly in ultraviolet radiation and X-rays. The neutron star’s fierce "wind" of charged particles energized the nebula, causing it to emit the radio waves. In this color scheme used for this set of images the background stars appear blue because they have the strongest signal in the ultraviolet-light exposure.
The Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova explosion seen by Chinese and other astronomers in the year 1054, is 6,500 light-years from Earth.
NASA, ESA, G. Dubner (IAFE, CONICET-University of Buenos Aires) et al.; A. Loll et al.; T. Temim et al.; F. Seward et al.; VLA/NRAO/AUI/NSF; Chandra/CXC; Spitzer/JPL-Caltech; XMM-Newton/ESA; and Hubble/STScI