The Virtual Amateur Astronomer®, Image of the Crab Nebula, Internet Astronomy by Jupiter Scientific
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A Supernova Remnant
Using a sky chart for the constellation Taurus, you
locate the Crab Nebula, M1:
On July 4, 1054 AD, Chinese astronomers observed a super brilliant "star" four times brighter than Venus
(which is normally the brightest object in the sky apart from the Sun and Moon). For more than three weeks, it
was visible even during the day! What the Chinese saw was a supernova, the explosive death of a star. The Crab Nebula
is the remnant of that supernova explosion. In your eyepiece, you are seeing the remains of a catastrophic stellar event
that was equivalent to release of about ten-thousand-trillion-trillion-trillion (1040) tons
of TNT! The hot gas is still expanding at a speed of about 1800 kilometers per second. Deep inside the nebula
is a pulsar, a neutron star that is rotating about 30 times a second and sending out radio waves and that was generated
during the supernova event when the core of the star collapse inward.
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