The Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant that was formed by the explosion of a star, was a supernova documented in the year 1,506 AD by 11th-century astronauts. The James Webb Space Telescope has now examined the nebula located 65,000 light-years away in the constellation Taurus, revealing new insights that were never seen before. With Webb's NIRCam and MIRI (Mid-Infrared Instrument) imagers, a team of researchers are investing in the Crab Nebula's origins.
Latest image of Crab Nebula
The supernova remnant's general shape in the latest image is identical to an earlier optical wavelength image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Webb's infrared image shows the structure of fluffy gaseous filaments in red-orange. Some yellow-white and green emissions from dust grains can be seen in the image's middle areas. This is the first time a telescope has mapped out this feature. Additionally, more information on the inner workings of the Crab Nebula is more evident and can be seen in more insights into the infrared light captured by Webb.
Webb excels at highlighting 'synchrotron radiation,' that is, the emission produced by charged particles such as electrons moving at near relativistic speeds around magnetic field lines. The radiation appears in the image as smoke-like material throughout the interior of the Crab Nebula. That is the result of the pulsar, a rapidly revolving neutron star in the nebula. The pulsar's magnetic solid fields accelerate particles to extraordinarily high speeds, causing them to emit radiation as they wind around the field lines.
Crab Nebula's pulsar heart
The pulsar heart of the Crab Nebula can be found by tracing the wispy material that forms a circular ripple-like pattern in the middle. Follow the thin white radiation ribbons further out from the core. The curved wisps are tightly packed together there, indicating the structure of the pulsar's magnetic field.