Hubble Photographs the Crab Nebula’s Beating Heart

Crab nebula. Image: ESA/NASA.
Crab nebula. Image: ESA/NASA.
6500 light-years away from Earth is one of the Universe’s most photogenic objects: the Crab Nebula.

By Daniel Oberhaus | MOTHERBOARD

This iconic cloud of gas is the result of a giant explosion produced by a dying star—known as a supernova—and at the center of the nebula the innermost core of this long dead star remains. This core is a neutron star, an incredibly dense (it has about the same mass as our Sun, but packed into a sphere only a few dozen miles in diameter) and exotic stellar object that spins 30 times per second. It is, as the ESA calls it, the Crab Nebula’s “beating heart,” and a new time-lapse photo from NASA and the European Space Agency has captured its movement in unprecedented detail.

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