The constellation Taurus lies between the constellation Orion, and the Pleiades star cluster.
The Pleiades, also known as the “Seven Sisters,”is an open cluster of hot B-type stars, 444 light years away, yet easily visible to the naked eye. Time-exposure photography reveals the cluster to be surrounded by a faint nebulosity; once thought to be the remnent from the cluster’s formation, it was later determined that the cluster is drifting through an unrelated cloud in the interstellar medium.
In 1054, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arab astronomers noted a bright “guest star” in Taurus – a supernova so bright, it was visible during the day!
In 1734, English astronomer John Bevis first observed the wispy remnants from that supernova.
The Crab Nebula has been expanding rapidly outward from its progenitor star ever since that titanic explosion in 1054 – currently at a rate of 1,500 km/s. The nebula is about 6500 light-years distant, and is about 11 light-years across.
The nebula’s filaments are remnants from the progenitor star’s atmosphere that were blasted into space. The nebula consists mostly of ionized hydrogen and helium, with a mix of other elements such as oxygen, carbon, neon, nitrogen, sulfur and iron. Over hundreds of millions of years, these elements will disperse into the interstellar medium – to become the next generation of stars in our Milky Way galaxy.
At the heart of the Crab Nebula is a type of neutron star called a pulsar – the fantastically dense remains of the progenitor star, with an intense magnetic field, rotating 30 times a second, spraying radiation out into space.
“A neutron star is the closest thing to a black hole that astronomers can observe directly. It is the crushed core of a massive star that ran out of fuel, collapsed under its own weight, and then exploded as a supernova. The matter left behind after the explosion is compressed into a ball only about 12 miles across but with a mass roughly half a million times more than the mass of the Earth. One teaspoon of a neutron star weighs 1 billion tons, roughly twice the combined weight of all the cars in the United States.
Neutron stars can reach speeds of rotation as fast as the blades of a kitchen blender — up to 43,000 revolutions per minute (rpm), and can have magnetic fields a trillion times stronger than the Earth’s.” ~Francis Reddy / Barbara K. Kennedy / Penn State University
The outflowing electromagnetic wind from the Crab Pulsar gets accelerated to ultrarelativistic speeds by its intense rotating magnetic field; this generates synchrotron emissions, which in turn produce the emissions we see from Earth – ranging from radio waves through gamma rays.
While working on an this article, I got to wondering what would happen if you did put a Neutron Star above the Earth, and unpaused time? So I simulated that in Universe Sandbox ²: