The Crab Nebula, located 6,500 light years away, is famous among astronomers for its detailed and beautiful structure. A new image from the James Webb Space Telescope shows the gorgeous nebula seen in infrared wavelengths, highlighting the filaments of dust that create its cage-like shape.
The nebula is a supernova remnant, the result of a massive star that exploded at the end of its life centuries ago. A supernova was observed on Earth in 1054 AD, and since then astronomers have watched the nebula that resulted from that explosion grow and change.
The nebula has been previously imaged by other telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope which looks primarily in optical wavelengths and, more recently, NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer observatory which looks in X-ray wavelengths. These results add to a previous image showing the nebula in optical, infrared and X-rays.
However, the new web image shows different aspects of the object. Using its NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) and MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) instruments, Webb can see the structures of the gas filaments, shown in red and orange, as well as fields of dust Which appear as light yellow color. White, and green areas. Another aspect picked up in the infrared image is a type of radiation called synchrotron radiation, created by a rotating neutron star with a strong magnetic field, shown as white milky matter in the nebula’s interior .
The nebula is being studied to learn how it formed from a supernova event, which threw up a cloud of material when the star exploded.
“The sensitivity and spatial resolution of the web allow us to accurately determine the composition of the ejected material, particularly the content of iron and nickel,” lead researcher Ty Temim of Princeton University said in a statement. “What type of explosion produced the Crab Nebula.” ,
More data about the Crab Nebula will be coming soon, as Hubble also recently re-imaged the object for the first time since it took its original observations in 1999 and 2000.