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Hubble Telescope Captures Eerie Glow, Still-Beating Heart Of A Dead Star

28 October 2016, 12:01 pm EDT By Livia Rusu Tech Times
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The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a real 'tell-tale heart' in space, 6,500 light-years from Earth. The stellar relic is embedded in the center of the Crab Nebula.  ( NASA, ESA )

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope recorded the image of a dead star that exploded a long time ago inside the Crab Nebula. However, the star still has a pulse, and its "heart" is represented by the crushed core of the exploded star.

It is called a neutron star and has a similar amount of mass as the sun. However, it is very dense and it only occupies a few miles across.

The object spins 30 times every second, and the magnetic field it produces generates roughly 1 trillion volts; its dazzling energetic activity causes strong waves forming an expanding ring, best observable on the upper right side of the image.

The hot gas of the nebula radiates the entire electromagnetic spectrum, hence the glow it produces while carrying out its activity, forming all kinds of energy from radio to X-rays. The observations were made by the Advanced Camera for Surveys back in 2012, between January and September. The green hue is the result of the color range of the filter that was used in the observational process.

The Crab Nebula is one of the most comprehensively observed supernova remains that ever represented the subject of study among astronomy specialists. Its observation dates from 1054 A.D., and it was Chinese astronomers who were the first to see it during the daytime, for 23 days in a row. Back then, the star stunned them, as it was even brighter than Venus.

Japanese, Arabic and American observations followed the Chinese pursuits of understanding the nature of the guest in their sky. A few centuries later, in 1758, Charles Messier observed a hazy nebula.

It was located near a long-vanished supernova, and it sparked his interest - he was looking for a comet when he came across the wondrous phenomenon. The discovery made him add the nebula to his celestial catalog, naming it "Messier 1," and he marked it as a "fake comet."

Approximately 100 years later, William Parsons was the first to ever draw a representation of the nebula. Because it looked, oddly, like a crustacean, he called it the Crab Nebula. A few decades after this, Edwin Hubble, the renowned astronomer, was the one who suggested the association between the nebula and what the Chinese observed back in 1054.

The formation is bright enough for us to see it with amateur telescopes without any special or very expensive equipment, being just 6,500 light-years away and located in the constellation Taurus.

Back in July, Hubble's sharp view captured intricate details of a glowing star forming a swirling medley of cavities and filaments.

The "heartbeat" radiation signature of the Crab Nebula was first discovered in 1968, when astronomers understood they had come across a new type of astronomical object. Back then, the observational experiments were focused on finding varieties more than cataloging them. Based on what we know today, the archetype of a supernova remnant is called a pulsar, a fast-spinning neutron star.

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