NASA's Hubble Captures Stunning Image of Crab Nebula's 'Beating Heart'

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NASA's Hubble Captures Stunning Image of Crab Nebula's 'Beating Heart'

The NASA Hubble Space Telescope image is centered on the region around the neutron star.


Highlights

  1. Hubble has captured images of supernova Crab Nebula's 'beating heart'
  2. The NASA Hubble image is centered on the region around the neutron star
  3. This "heartbeat" radiation signature was first discovered in 1968
For the first time, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured images of the supernova Crab Nebula's 'beating heart' - an inner region that sends out pulses of radiation and tsunamis of charged particles.

The neutron star at the very centre 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 image 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, broken, remains surrounding it.

Hubble's brilliant view captures the small details of glowing gas, shown in red, that forms a swirling medley of cavities and filaments.

Inside the shell is a misty blue glow that is radiation given off by in the powerful magnetic field around the crushed stellar core.

When this "heartbeat" radiation signature was first discovered in 1968, astronomers believed they had discovered a new type of astronomical object.

Now astronomers know it is the archetype of a class of supernova remains called pulsars, or rapidly spinning neutron stars.

These interstellar "lighthouse beacons" are invaluable for doing observational experiments on a variety of astronomical phenomena, including measuring gravity waves, NASA said.

"The neutron star is a showcase for extreme physical processes and unimaginable cosmic violence," NASA officials said in the statement. "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."


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