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Crab Nebula Supernova Remnant (Spitzer/IRAC Image)
Sig05 003

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Gehrz (University of Minnesota)

Observation • June 1st, 2005 • sig05-003


The Crab Nebula is the shattered remnant of a massive star that ended its life in a massive supernova explosion. Nearly a thousand years old, the supernova was noted in the constellation of Taurus by Chinese astronomers in the year 1054 AD.

This view of the supernova remnant obtained by the Spitzer Space Telescope shows the infrared view of this complex object. The blue-white region traces the cloud of energetic electrons trapped within the star's magnetic field, emitting so-called "synchrotron" radiation. The red features follow the well-known filamentary structures that permeate this nebula. Though they are known to contain hot gasses, their exact nature is still a mystery that astronomers are examining.

The energetic cloud of electrons are driven by a rapidly rotating neutron star, or pulsar, at its core. The nebula is about 6,500 light-years away from the Earth, and is 5 light-years across.

This false-color image presents images from Spitzer's Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) at 3.6 (blue), 4.5 (green), and 8.0 (red) microns.

About the Object

Crab NebulaMessier 1M1NGC 1952
Nebula > Type > Supernova Remnant
6,300 Light Years

Color Mapping

Band Wavelength Telescope
Infrared 3.6 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 4.5 µm Spitzer IRAC
Infrared 8.0 µm Spitzer IRAC


Position (J2000)
RA =5h 34m 31.0s
Dec = 22° 1' 4.6"
Field of View
0.0 x 0.0 arcminutes
North is 1.0° left of vertical