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Astr112 Photography Projects, Fall 2007

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Crab Nebula (M1), Michael Kornelis

Crab Nebula

The Crab Nebula located within our own Milky Way Galaxy was first observed by Chinese astronomers on July 4, in the year 1054 AD. What they were observing was the supernova explosion of this extraordinary Nebula. Initially it had shown so bright that for 63 days it was visible in the daytime sky, and at night was brighter than Venus at her brightest. Later it was rediscovered by astronomer Charles Messier in 1758 when he was searching for comets. Stumbling upon this magnificent Nebula he was inspired to commence his task of cataloging the sky. The Crab Nebula is composed of the remnant material of a super nova explosion. This material violently dispersed by the explosion and remarkably is still expanding and at a very rapid rate. Comparing photographs taken within our century we are able to observe this expansion to be 0.2” annually. Considering this data astronomers hypothesize the supernova explosion to have occurred 900 years ago. This nebula is illuminated by inward lying stars one of which is a pulsar star rapidly rotating 30 times per minute. This pulsar is very advantageous when trying to find the nebula’s distance. With the aid of this pulsar astronomers assert that the Crab Nebula is 6,300 light years away.

Using this photograph I have estimated the linear size of this nebula to be 7 by 7 light years across. This photograph displays the nebula’s beautiful gaseous dust clouds brilliantly illuminated by stars within the nebula. These dust clouds are primarily composed of hydrogen and ionized helium. Also this photograph exhibits lovely red regions in contrast with the greater white portion of the nebula. The red region is such due to different particals emitting different emission lines.

References:

"Supernova Remnant M1 (NGC 1952) inTaurus" Students for the Exploration and Development of Space
http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m001.html

Answers.com "CrabNebula"
http://www.answers.com/topic/crab-nebula?cat=technology

Right Ascension (J2000) 05:34:01
Declination (J2000) 22:01:26
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 5x60 seconds in C, 300 seconds in BVR
Date observed

October 23, 2007 (CBVR)