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Electromagnetic spectrum/Light & color
Multiwavelength Crab Nebula (M1)
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In the summer of the year 1054 AD, Chinese astronomers saw a new "guest star," that appeared six times brighter than Venus. So bright in fact, it could be seen during the daytime for several months. Halfway around the world, Native Americans made pictographs of a crescent moon with the bright star nearby that some think may also have been a record of the guest star's appearance.

The "guest star" was forgotten about until 700 years later, when astronomers using telescopes were able to see a tentacle-like nebula in the place of the vanished star. As a result, the object was named the Crab Nebula. Today we know it as the expanding, gaseous remains of a star that self-detonated as a supernova. At its center is a super-dense neutron star (pulsar), rotating once every 33 milliseconds, shooting out lighthouse-like beams of radio waves and light.

This composite picture from five telescopes captures the complexity of the Crab Nebula's structure. The image combines data from the VLA (radio) shown in red; Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared) shown in yellow; Hubble Space Telescope (visible) shown in green; XMM-Newton (ultraviolet) shown in blue; and Chandra X-ray Observatory (X-ray) shown in purple.

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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


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Crab Nebula in Multiple Wavelengths (Annotated)


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