The Crab Nebula, located in the constellation of Taurus, is the remnant of a star that exploded in 1054 AD. The nebula is roughly 10 light-years across, and it is at a distance of about 6,000 light years from earth. It is presently expanding at about 1000 km per second. The supernova explosion left behind a rapidly spinning neutron star, or a pulsar (not discernible in this image). The present remnant is formed from both the material originally thrown off by the star in the supernova explosion, and from a highly energetic wind from the pulsar. It is this wind which energizes the nebula, and causes it to emit the radio waves (purple, blue, green). Gases glow so brightly that they can be seen optically as well (red).
Credit: M. Bietenholz, T. Burchell NRAO/AUI/NSF; B. Schoening/NOAO/AURA/NSF
Technical Details Telescope: VLA; VLA; VLA; UK Schmidt Band: C; C; C; - Date: 2001-03-12; 2001-03-12; 2001-03-12 Center: RA: 5:34:31.69, Dec: 22:00:52.2 Field of View: 7.1 x 6.9 arcminutes