ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Lord Rosse's drawing of the Crab Nebula (bottom). The Crab Nebula got its name from its appearance in this drawing, with filaments extending out from the southern extremity (top). It was created by the Irish astronomer William Parsons (1800-1867), the Third Earl of Rosse, using the 36 inch (91.4 cm) reflector at Birr Castle. The Crab Nebula erupted on 4th July 1054 when a series of gas shells were cast off during the explosive death of a massive star. The shells, ejected at extremely high speeds, collided with the interstellar medium and became compressed and heated, emitting light. The core of the star that exploded as a supernova became a pulsar, a rapidly spinning neutron star that emits regular pulses of radiation. Published in Philosophical Transactions, 1844.
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