Nebula’s ‘beating heart’ revealed in spectacular NASA image

The image was created over 10 years. © NASA
Three images taken 10 years apart by the Hubble telescope have revealed the magnificent pulse at the heart of the Crab Nebula. At the center of the nebula a deceased star can be seen emitting waves of energy like a ripple in water.

A neutron star with the same mass as the sun but only a few miles in diameter is spinning 30 times per second at the center of the Crab Nebula, causing a violent but beautiful wave of reaction that appears over time to be pulsating, according to NASA.

“Bright wisps are moving outward from the neutron star at half the speed of light to form an expanding ring. It is thought that these wisps originate from a shock wave that turns the high-speed wind from the neutron star into extremely energetic particles,” they said in a statement released with the image.

Using the Hubble telescope the deceased light left from the supernova was captured on camera and assembled into a time-lapse showing the neutron star in action.

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The light generated from the star in the image is caused by intense magnetic activity charging particles causing them to spin and emit light.

The Crab Nebula, 6,500 light-years away in the Taurus constellation, was first observed on earth in 1054 when Chinese and Japanese astronomers recorded the supernova as the second brightest object in the night sky after the moon.

Over several years the brightness declined until it eventually became invisible to the naked eye.

The nebula gets its name from William Parsons, the 3rd Earl of Rosse and astronomy enthusiast who after observing it around 1845 from Birr Castle in Ireland believed it resembled a crab.