Photo in the News: Best View Yet of the Crab Nebula

Photo: The Crab Nebula
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December 1, 2005—Images of the Crab Nebula have come a long way since the 1844 drawing that gave the formation its name. Now, thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have created the most detailed image ever of the entire six-light-year-wide nebula.

The new image released today will help researchers better understand the phenomenon that created the nebula—a supernova explosion. The blast, which signaled the death of a star 6,500 light years from Earth, was seen by Japanese and Chinese astronomers in 1054.

The image is a composite of several exposures taken in 1999 and 2000 by Hubble's cameras. The colors indicate some of the elements that make up the formation: blue represents oxygen, green is sulfur, and red is ionized (electrically charged) oxygen.

—Victoria Gilman

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