Russell Croman Astrophotography  



Multispectral Crab Nebula

About This Photograph

This is the fabulous Crab Nebula in the constellation Taurus (the Bull). This is what remains of a star that went supernova (exploded violently) in 1050 A.D. Chinese astronomers noted a "guest star" in the sky in precisely this position. When stars go supernova, they can temporarily produce more light than an entire galaxy, and this star was no exception – for weeks it was visible in broad daylight.

What remains now are glowing tendrils of gas that seem woven among a ghostly bluish glow. At the center of this cloud is the fading ember of the original star, an intriguing object with roughly the mass of our sun, but compressed to the size of a city: a neutron star. Highly magnetized, and spinning at a fantastic rate of 33 times per second, it sends out powerful radio pulses that can be picked up here on Earth. It is this same spinning motion that provides the energy that lights up the Crab Nebula.

This photograph is a composite of my own ground-based exposures taken from my backyard observatory in Austin, Texas, plus infrared, optical, and x-ray images courtesy of the Spitzer, Hubble, and Chandra space telescopes. Credit for this data:

X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/F.Seward

Optical: NASA/ESA/ASU/J.Hester & A.Loll

Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Minn./R.Gehrz


Related Photographs

The Crab Nebula

Technical Details

Optics:14" f/10 Ritchey-Chrétien Cassegrain w/ Astro-Physics 0.75x Reducer
Camera:SBIG ST-10XME
Mount:Takahashi NJP Temma 2
Filters:SBIG Standard LRGB
Dates/Times:30-31 January 2003
Location:my backyard observatory in Austin, Texas
Exposure Details:LRGB = 65:25:25:30 (5-minute sub-exposures, all unbinned)