Secrets of the Crab Nebula: NASA considers the most mysterious space object of the night sky

The Aerospace Administration has published a new photo of the Crab Nebula. According to the agency, this nebula is one of the well-known, as well as mysterious astronomical objects of our night sky. A bright space object is located 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Taurus. The photo of the Crab Nebula was taken using NASA’s X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), which was launched on December 9, 2021. 

A new, more detailed photograph of the Crab Nebula. Photo: NASA

In the center of the nebula is a pulsar, about the diameter of the city of Kyiv, but the mass of our two Suns. “The chaotic mess of gases, shock waves, magnetic fields and high-energy light and particles coming from the rotating pulsar is collectively called a ‘pulsar wind nebula,” NASA explained. 

What makes this image historical?

The Crab Nebula was first explored from space using a probe rocket in 1971. Then scientists received scientific data on a tape recorder — a device that prints the received signals on paper. For this project, astronomer Martin Weisskopf and his colleagues analyzed the data by measuring the distance of the signals using a ruler and pencil. 

Just a few decades later, an astronomer proposed creating a satellite with “powerful instruments” that would help collect more detailed measurements of the Crab Nebula and other mysterious space objects. This led to the creation of IXPE. Now, 50 years later, scientists have finally obtained a detailed map of the magnetic field of the Crab Nebula.

Real spectacle with hidden secrets

“However, the extreme conditions which resulted in this “bizarre environment” have not been thoroughly understood. Even after so many years, “every recent large telescope has pointed to the Crab Nebula to better understand this mysterious supernova remnant”, NASA said in a statement.

The photo of the nebula is a real sight. But based on the impressive photo, scientists wanted to learn more about the magnetic field of the Crab Nebula. According to NASA, the resulting map revealed more about its internal structure than ever before. The researchers have noticed that the magnetic field of the Crab Nebula resembles the Vela Pulsar Wind Nebula, which has the shape of a doughnut. However, they were surprised that parts of the magnetic field turbulence were more patchy and asymmetrical than expected.

So it is extremely exciting that we could learn something new about this system by looking through IXPE’s ‘polarized lenses,’” said Michela Negro, a NASA researcher and co-author of the study.

According to Wionews.

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time