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NASA Hubble Detects Beating 'Heart' of Crab Nebula

Oct 28, 2016 04:01 AM EDT
Crab Nebula
Hubble detects beating heart at the center of Crab Nebula
(Photo : NASA/Getty Images)

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has detected a "heart" beating with rhythmic precision at the center of the supernova remnant Crab Nebula.

The heart, which is called a neutron star, is the crushed core of the exploded star. Located near the center of the supernova remnant, the heart is about same mass as the sun. It is squeezed into an ultra-dense sphere that is 100 billion times stronger and spans a few miles across.

In a press release, NASA noted that the beating heart of the Crab Nebula spins 30 times a second, producing a deadly magnetic field that can generate up to one trillion volts. Due to this, wisp-like waves that form and expanding ring can be observed coming from the beating heart.

The hot gas glowing from the nebula glows in radiation across electromagnetic spectrum, from radio to x-rays. The observation made by Hubble was taken using the Advanced Camera for Surveys between January and September 2012. It was taken in visible light as black-and0white exposures.

According to NASA, the Crab Nebula is one of the most historic and intensively studied supernova remnants. The first recorded observation of the Crab Nebula can be traced back to 1054 A.D. Chinese astronomers recorded seeing the nebula and considered it a "guest star" appeared in daytime for 23 days. The same star, which appeared to be six times brighter than Venus, was also observed by stargazers living in different countries, including Japan, Middle East and America.

French astronomer Charles Messier discovered the hazy nebula near the location of long vanished supernova in 1758. The discovery was made when the Messier was searching for comets. Thus, he added the nebula to his celestial catalog as "Messier 1," marking it as a "fake comet."

The sketch of the nebula came nearly a century later thanks to the work of British astronomer William Parsons. The nebula is peculiarly resembles the crustacean, resulting to its present name Crab Nebula. The Crab Nebula was first associated to the guest star seen by the Chinese in 1928 by the astronomer Edwin Hubble.

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