The Crab Nebula
Object Type: Supernova Remnant
Scope: Orion 10" Newtonian
Exposure 30 minutes
The Crab Nebula, Messier 1 (M1, NGC 1952), is the most famous and conspicuous known supernova remnant, the expanding cloud of gas created in the explosion of a star as supernova which was observed in the year 1054 AD. It shines as a nebula of magnitude 8.4 near the southern "horn" of Taurus, the Bull.
The supernova was noted on July 4, 1054 A.D. by Chinese astronomers as a new or "guest star," and was about four times brighter than Venus, or about mag -6. According to the records, it was visible in daylight for 23 days, and 653 days to the naked eye in the night sky.
The Supernova 1054 is one of few historically observed supernovae in our Milky Way Galaxy.
The nebulous remnant was discovered by John Bevis in 1731, who added it to his sky atlas, Uranographia Britannica. Charles Messier independently found it on August 28, 1758, when he was looking for comet Halley on its first predicted return, and first thought it was a comet. Of course, he soon recognized that it had no apparent proper motion, and cataloged it on September 12, 1758. It was the discovery of this object which caused Charles Messier to begin with the compilation of his catalog. It was also the discovery of this object, which closely resembled a comet (1758 De la Nux, C/1758 K1) in his small refracting telescope, which brought him to the idea to search for comets with telescopes (see his note). Messier acknowledged the prior, original discovery by Bevis when he learned of it in a letter of June 10, 1771.
This nebula was christened the "Crab Nebula" on the ground of a drawing made by Lord Rosse about 1844.
The nebula consists of the material ejected in the supernova explosion, which has been spread over a volume approximately 10 light years in diameter, and is still expanding at the very high velocity of about 1,800 km/sec.
The energy emitted by the pulsar rotating at the center of the gravity equals 100,000 solar outputs which is causing the gas in the nubula to glow.
It has now been established that this pulsar is a rapidly rotating neutron star: It rotates about 30 times per second!