Composite image renders Crab Nebula in brilliant blue and purple

May 11 (UPI) — A team of astronomers has created a composite image of the Crab Nebula using data from five different telescopes and encompassing the entirety of the electromagnetic spectrum.

“Comparing these new images, made at different wavelengths, is providing us with a wealth of new detail about the Crab Nebula,” Gloria Dubner, a researcher at the Institute of Astronomy and Physics, said in a news release. “Though the Crab has been studied extensively for years, we still have much to learn about it.”

Radio waves were captured by the Very Large Array and appear in red. Infrared radiation was observed by the Spitzer Space Telescope and is pictured in yellow. Visible light was imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope and is represented in green. The XMM-Newton captured ultraviolet rays, shared in blue. And the Chandra X-ray Observatory observed X-rays, shown in purple.

The end result is a brilliant and electric display of color.

The Crab Nebula is a supernova remnant located 6,500 light-years from Earth in the Taurus constellation. At its center is the Crab Pulsar, a massive neutron star spinning at a rate of 33 milliseconds per rotation.

The pulsar regularly shoots out intense beams of radiation, including gamma rays, X-rays and radio waves. The streams of particles emanating from the pulsar give shape to the surrounding supernova debris.


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