From The European Southern Observatory
This is a three color composite of the Crab Nebula (Messier 1), as observed with the FORS2 instrument in the morning of November 10, 1999. It is the remnant of a supernova at a distance of about 6,000 light-years, observed in 1054. A neutron star near its center that spins 30 times per second around its axis.
The red light is predominantly produced by hydrogen emission from material ejected by the star that exploded. The blue light is predominantly emitted by very high-energy ("relativistic") electrons that spiral in a large-scale magnetic field (so-called synchrotron emission). These electrons are continuously accelerated and ejected by the rapidly spinning neutron star at the center of the nebula, which is the remnant core of the exploded star. This pulsar has been identified with the lower/right of the two close stars near the geometric center of the nebula, immediately left of the small arc-like feature.
Photo 40f/99 is based on a composite of three images taken through three different optical filters: B (429 nm; FWHM 88 nm; 5 min; here rendered as blue), R (657 nm; FWHM 150 nm; 1 min; green) and S II (673 nm; FWHM 6 nm; 5 min; red) during periods of 0.65 arcsec (R, S II) and 0.80 (B) seeing, respectively. The field shown measures 6.8 arcmin x 6.8 arcmin and the images were recorded in frames of 2048 pixels x 2048 pixels, each measuring 0.2 arcsec. North is up; East is left.
Based on press release with ESO PR Photo 40f/99
Catalog #: Photo 40f/99
Target Name: Crab Nebula
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Last Modified On: Sunday, December 16, 2000