Astrophoto: Widefield, Narrowband View of the Crab Nebula by Nick Howes

by Nancy Atkinson on December 24, 2012

Crab Nebula in a widefield, narrowband image. Credit: Nick Howes

This gorgeous shot of the Crab Nebula, or M1, by astronomer Nick Howes shows the famous nebula in a different light than the usual full spectrum views we’ve seen from the likes of the Hubble Space Telescope. Narrowband filters are designed to capture specific wavelengths of light, and since the Crab Nebula is emitting its own light rather than reflecting light from another source, it is a perfect candidate for imaging in narrow, or a limited part of the spectrum.

This nebula is the wreckage of an exploded star that emitted light which reached Earth in the year 1054. It is located 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Taurus. At the heart of an expanding gas cloud lies what is left of the original star’s core, a superdense neutron star that spins 30 times a second. With each rotation, the star swings intense beams of radiation toward Earth, creating the pulsed emission characteristic of spinning neutron stars (also known as pulsars).

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About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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