News of the WeekAstronomy

Peering at the Crab's Power Supply

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Science  08 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5438, pp. 211
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5438.211a

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The orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory has opened a new and detailed look at the blazing heart of the Crab Nebula, the remnants of a star that exploded into view nearly 1000 years ago. The images reveal swirls of energetic material around the spinning stellar corpse in the nebula's center. The swirls, especially a bright inner ring, may trace the long-sought "power conduits" that pump energy from the pulsar to the glowing nebula, according to researchers who spoke last week at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.