James Webb Space Telescope Discovery

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Date: 6/3/2024

The Crab Nebula (Webb/Chandra composite)

The Crab Nebula, the result of a bright supernova explosion seen by Chinese and other astronomers in the year 1054, is 6,500 light-years from Earth. At its center is a neutron star, a super-dense star produced by the supernova. As it rotates at about 30 times per second, its beam of radiation passes over the Earth every orbit, like a cosmic lighthouse. As the young pulsar slows down, large amounts of energy are injected into its surroundings. In particular, a high-speed wind of matter and anti-matter particles plows into the surrounding nebula, creating a shock wave that forms an expanding ring. Jets from the poles of the pulsar spew X-ray emitting matter and antimatter particles in a direction perpendicular to the ring. This image shows the X-ray data from Chandra along with infrared data from the Webb space telescope. Read more and see a timelapse movie here. Download more images: chandra.si.edu/photo/2024/timelapse/more.html Image credits: X-ray, Chandra: NASA/CXC/SAO; Infrared, Webb: NASA/STScI; Image Processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/J. Major