The Crab Nebula in all its spectacular multi-wavelength glory

In 1054, some 6,500 years after the fact, light from a bright supernova reached Earth, mystifying Chinese astronomers and others who described a “new star” in the constellation Taurus. Modern astronomers now know the explosion left behind an ultra-dense pulsar at the heart of a vast cloud of stellar debris, a highly-magnetised neutron star that rotates once every 33 milliseconds and shoots out polar jets of matter and antimatter along with powerful solar winds.

A new multi-wavelength image of the Crab, combining X-rays, ultraviolet, optical, infrared and radio emissions captured by five telescopes, reveals extraordinary detail giving astronomers fresh insights into the complex processes still at work in the evolving aftermath of the supernova blast, including a ghostly view of the pulsar at the heart of the nebula. Views in isolated wavelengths, as well as the composite image, are posted on the Chandra X-ray Observatory’s website.

The Crab Nebula, the remnant of a supernova blast seen in 1054, is shown here in a composite image made up of emissions across the electromagnetic spectrum, from X-rays to radio waves, that were captured by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, XMM-Newton and the Very Large Array radio telescope. Image: NASA