Multispectral Image of the Crab Nebula

[M1, composite image from HST, CXO, SST]

Multispectral composite image of the Crab Nebula.

Crab Nebula: The Spirit of Halloween Lives on as a Dead Star Creates Celestial Havoc

Timely for Halloween 2006, Nasa released this great multi-spectral composite image of the Crab Nebula, taken by its great observatories: X-ray image by Chandra (CXO), optical by Hubble (HST), and infrared by Spitzer (SST).

According to the folklore of the Celts and other ancient cultures, Halloween marked the midpoint between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice on the astronomical calendar, a spooky night when spirits of the dead spread havoc upon their return to Earth.

This spirit apparently lives on in the sky in the guise of the Crab Nebula.

The Chandra X-ray image is shown in light blue, the Hubble Space Telescope optical images are in green and dark blue, and the Spitzer Space Telescope's infrared image is in red. The size of the X-ray image is smaller than the others because ultrahigh-energy X-ray emitting electrons radiate away their energy more quickly than the lower-energy electrons emitting optical and infrared light. The neutron star, which has the mass equivalent to the sun crammed into a rapidly spinning ball of neutrons twelve miles across, is the bright white dot in the center of the image.

  • High-res version of this image

    Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/J.Hester (ASU); Optical: NASA/ESA/J.Hester & A.Loll (ASU); Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R.Gehrz (Univ. Minn.)

  • More information on this image (Chandra X-ray Center)
  • More information on this image (Spitzer Science Center)

  • This image was featured as Astronomical Picture of the Day (APOD) October 26, 2006

  • More Hubble Space Telescope images
  • More Chandra X-ray Observatory images
  • More Spitzer Space Telescope images

    Hartmut Frommert
    Christine Kronberg

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    Last Modification: October 27, 2006