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Spectacular new Crab Nebula images close in on its final secrets

19 May 2017, 14:01 UTC
Spectacular new Crab Nebula images close in on its final secrets NASA, ESA, G. Dubner (IAFE, CONICET-University of Buenos Aires) et al.; A. Loll et al.; T. Temim et al.; F. Seward et al.; VLA/NRAO/AUI/NSF; Chandra/CXC; Spitzer/JPL-Caltech; XMM-Newton/ESA; and Hubble/STScI.
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Thousands of light years away, the death throes of a massive star culminated in a catastrophic supernova explosion. In the year 1054, that light finally made it to Earth, outshining all the stars and planets in the sky and becoming visible during the day. Some 700 years later, after the invention of the telescope, astronomers identified a faint, fuzzy blob in the sky where that star once resided: the Crab Nebula. Over the centuries, improved historical records, alongside new measurements, observations, and multi-wavelength studies led us to understand the story of this fantastic object as never before. Earlier this week, the last piece of the puzzle — a high-resolution image at the longest wavelengths possible — finally came together in beautiful, spectacular fashion.

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