REV. RONALD ROYER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY REV. RONALD ROYER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Optical photograph pf the Crab Nebula (also known as M1 & Taurus A). The Crab is a supernova remnant, a cloud of gas & dust expanding outwards from the explosion of a star. The explosion was observed by Chinese astronomers on July 4, 1054 AD. It has since been identified as a type II supernova: the explosion of a heavyweight star at the end of its life. Today the cloud is about 15 light years long & 10 light years across. At its centre is the remnant of the original star, the Crab pulsar (not visible), which flashes 30 times per second. The Crab is some 6500 light years from Earth.
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