Posts Tagged ‘neutron star’

Fireworks in D

Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The letter D is outlined in this celestial fireworks display. The colorful filaments seen in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of N49 are all that’s left of a supernova explosion that took place thousands of years ago in the Large Magellanic Cloud. This supernova remnant is called N 49, or DEM L 190. Inside these sheets of glowing star debris lies a powerful, spinning neutron star called a pulsar. Pulsars give off regular pulses of energy like the ticking of a very precise clock. After the supernova blows off the outer layers of the star, it collapses under its own gravity. The star collapses so much that the protons and electrons spinning around the atoms of the star combine to form neutrons. A neutron star is very dense. Imagine our entire Sun packed into an area of just 20 kilometers (12 miles) in diameter! Gravity is very strong on a neutron star. On Earth, a spoonful of neutron star material would weigh billions of tons. The magnetic field of N 49 is super strong, trillions of times stronger than Earth’s, putting it in special class of bizarre celestial objects called magnetars.

Explore the fine filaments of N 49. The filaments show the supernova’s blast wave as it travels through star clouds in the Large Magellanic Cloud. As the fast-moving star material slams into the relatively calm gas and dust of the star clouds, it causes the gas to heat up and glow. Each element glows with a different color.

The LMC is a small, irregular galaxy about 160,000 light-years from Earth. The Magellanic Clouds were described and named after the explorer Ferdinand Magellan. The clouds, visible in the southern hemisphere sky, were well known to ancient peoples. Astronomers used to believe that both the Large Magellanic and Small Magellanic Clouds were companion galaxies to our Milky Way Galaxy. Recent findings, however, show that the nearby galaxies are just passing by.

Fluttering in the Breeze

Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Glowing strands of gas and dust, like the hair of a goddess, stream from N44C, a group of hot, young stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Explore the image from NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope. N44C is part of a much bigger star-making nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, including massive hot stars and superbubbles blown out from multiple supernovae explosions.

Wander from the wispy filaments of glowing gas toward the bright haze in the center. It’s this haze that intrigues scientists. The star causing this whole nebula to glow is unusually hot, more than 135,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The most massive stars, ranging from 10 to 50 times more massive than our Sun, have temperatures up to about 90,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideas raised by scientists as to the cause of this extreme heat range from neutron stars to black holes.

Filaments at the top right of the image surround a Wolf-Rayet star, a kind of rare star with high winds of charged particles. The shock of the stellar wind slamming into the calm surrounding gas causes the nebula to glow.

N44C is found about 155,000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud, an irregular galaxy visible as a faint “cloud” from the southern hemisphere. The LMC is the third closest galaxy to our Milky Way Galaxy about one-tenth the size of the Milky Way.

Monkey Face

Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Do you see a monkey face looking up? Or sparks and smoke left over from a fireworks display? The colorful filaments seen in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of N49 are all that’s left of a supernova explosion that took place thousands of years ago in the Large Magellanic Cloud. This supernova remnant is called N 49, or DEM L 190. Inside these sheets of glowing star debris lies a powerful, spinning neutron star called a pulsar. Pulsars give off regular pulses of energy like the ticking of a very precise clock. After the supernova blows off the outer layers of the star, it collapses under its own gravity. The star collapses so much that the protons and electrons spinning around the atoms of the star combine to form neutrons. A neutron star is very dense. Imagine our entire Sun packed into an area of just 20 kilometers (12 miles) in diameter! Gravity is very strong on a neutron star. On Earth, a spoonful of neutron star material would weigh billions of tons. The magnetic field of N 49 is super strong, trillions of times stronger than Earth’s, putting it in special class of bizarre celestial objects called magnetars.

Explore the fine filaments of N 49. The filaments show the supernova’s blast wave as it travels through star clouds in the Large Magellanic Cloud. As the fast-moving star material slams into the relatively calm gas and dust of the star clouds, it causes the gas to heat up and glow. Each element glows with a different color.

The LMC is a small, irregular galaxy about 160,000 light-years from Earth. The Magellanic Clouds were described and named after the explorer Ferdinand Magellan. The clouds, visible in the southern hemisphere sky, were well known to ancient peoples. Astronomers used to believe that both the Large Magellanic and Small Magellanic Clouds were companion galaxies to our Milky Way Galaxy. Recent findings, however, show that the nearby galaxies are just passing by.

The Crab

Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Hester and A. Loll (Arizona State University)

In the year 1054, Japanese, Chinese and Native American astronomers recorded a violent event. They saw a star that hadn’t been there before. It turned out to be a supernova that formed the Crab Nebula and it’s one of the earliest recorded astronomical events by humans.

Also known as M1 and NGC 1952, the Crab Nebula is the leftovers after a star explodes. The streamers found in the Crab Nebula are the remains of that star flung out during the huge explosion. To astronomers who first looked at the night sky, this patch of light looked like a crab. At the center of the Crab Nebula is a neutron star. A neutron star is as massive as the sun but is pressed into a ball the size of a small town. It is very dense and spins very quickly. The Crab Pulsar rotates about 30 times a second.

The Crab Nebula spans about 10 light years. It is 6,000 light years away toward the constellation of Taurus the Bull. Taurus is beginning to rise in the late evening now and during the fall will rise earlier and earlier.

NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope took this image of M1 in 1999 and 2000. The picture is one of the largest ever taken by Hubble. It is the best image taken of the Crab Nebula.

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