The Hubble Space Telescope has captured an image of the Crab Nebula, believed to be home to a pulsar that appears to blink 30 times per second. Here’s what NASA explains.
The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a lot of images that have something new to reveal. The telescope also captured images of the Crab Nebula, which has a pulsar that appears to be flashing at a pulse rate of 30 times per second. Given that pulsars are collapsed, the rapidly rotating cores of the stars appear to flicker. In addition, pulsars were first discovered 55 years ago. Announcing the same, Hubble tweeted, “55 years ago, pulsars were first discovered! Pulsars are cores of rapidly rotating, collapsed stars that appear to “flash” or pulsate. This Hubble image shows the Crab Nebula, where a pulsar appears to pulsate 30 times per second.
According to information provided by NASA, in 1054 Chinese astronomers noticed a “guest star” that, for almost a month, was visible in the daytime sky. The “guest star” they observed was actually a supernova explosion, creating the Crab Nebula, a six-light-year-long remnant of the violent event. With an apparent magnitude of 8.4 and located 6,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus, the Crab Nebula can be detected with a small telescope and is best observed in January. .
“This nebula was discovered by English astronomer John Bevis in 1731, and later observed by Charles Messier, who mistook it for Halley’s Comet. Messier’s observations of the nebula inspired him to create a catalog of celestial objects that could be mistaken for comets,” NASA said in a report.
This large mosaic of the Crab Nebula is stitched together from 24 individual exposures taken by Hubble over three months. “The colors in this image do not exactly match what we see with the naked eye, but give insight into the composition of this spectacular carcass. The orange filaments are the remains of the star and are mostly hydrogen. The blue color in the filaments in the outer part of the nebula represents neutral oxygen. Green is single ionized sulfur, and red shows double ionized oxygen. These elements were expelled in a supernova explosion,” NASA announced.
A rapidly rotating neutron star (the extremely dense core of the exploded star) is embedded in the center of the Crab Nebula. Electrons whirling at nearly the speed of light around the star’s magnetic field lines create an eerie blue glow inside the nebula. The neutron star, like a lighthouse, emits a dual beam of radiation that makes it appear to pulse 30 times per second as it rotates, it added.