A Glorious Cosmic Mess

This is the sort of glorious mess that is left when a star explodes. It’s the Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova seen in 1054 AD. The nebula’s filaments are not only tremendously complex, but appear to have less mass than expelled in the original supernova and a higher speed than expected from a free explosion. This picture was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. It’s a false color image, the three colors chosen for scientific interest. The Crab Nebula spans about 10 light-years. There’s a pulsar at its center—a neutron star as massive as the Sun but with only few miles in diameter. The Crab Pulsar rotates about 30 times each second.

Image Credit: NASA

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