This three-color composite image of the Crab Nebula shows well the diversity of this unique object. Reddish-colored gaseous filaments, matter fragments of the former outer layers of the exploded supernova progenitor star, contrast nicely to the blue-glowing inner nebula, glowing in the highly polarized synchrotron light of relativistic electrons moving at almost the speed of light in (and interacting with) the pulsar's strong magnetic field. This magnetic field and thus the electrons and the nebula is powered by the rapidly rotating neutron star well in the heart of the nebula, but difficult to identify in this image.
This gorgeous image of the Crab Nebula, Messier 1, was created by David Malin from photographic plates taken on the Palomar 5m telescope in the 1960s. These plates had been taken in various colors for scientific analysis, but it was well possible to reconstruct and combine three of them (each one in red, green and blue part of the spectrum) to this color image.
This images is copyrighted and may be used for private purpose only. For any other kind of use, including internet mirroring and storing on CD-ROM, please contact the Photo Permissions Department (photo at aaoepp.aao.gov.au) of the Australian Astronomical Observatory.
Last Modification: July 27, 1999