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A death star’s ghostly glow

28 October 2016 Astronomy Now

The eerie glow of a dead star, which exploded long ago as a supernova, reveals itself in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the Crab Nebula in the constellation of Taurus. But don’t be fooled. The ghoulish-looking object still has a pulse. Buried at its centre is the star’s telltale heart — a neutron star which beats with rhythmic precision.

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Supernova ejected from the pages of history

18 August 2016 Astronomy Now

A new look at the debris from an exploded star in our galaxy has astronomers re-examining when the supernova actually happened. Recent observations of the supernova remnant called G11.2-0.3 with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have stripped away its connection to an event recorded by the Chinese in 386 CE.

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Hubble captures the beating heart of the Crab Nebula

7 July 2016 Astronomy Now

This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the beating heart of one of the most visually appealing, and most studied, supernova remnants known — the Crab Nebula in the constellation Taurus. At the centre of this nebula the spinning core of a deceased star breathes life into the gas that surrounds it.

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NASA’s Fermi satellite detects first gamma-ray pulsar in another galaxy

13 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Researchers using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have discovered the first gamma-ray pulsar in a galaxy other than our own. Known as PSR J0540-6919, the object sets a new record for the most luminous gamma-ray pulsar known. The pulsar lies in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy that is located 163,000 light-years away.

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Monster black hole wakes up after 26 years

26 June 2015 Astronomy Now

On 15 June 2015, a long-time acquaintance of X-ray and gamma ray astronomers made its comeback to the cosmic stage: V404 Cygni, a system comprising a black hole and a star orbiting one another. It is located in our Milky Way galaxy, almost 8,000 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan.