Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The high, untrespassed sanctity of space

Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane, et al.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory recently snapped this shot of energetic particles streaming from a pulsar—the rapidly rotating core left behind after a very massive star exploded as a supernova.

Known as B1509, the pulsar is thought to be about 1,700 years old and lies roughly 17,000 light-years from Earth.

The tiny pulsar is just 12 miles (19.3 kilometers) wide. But it is spinning so fast—it makes a complete rotation about every seven seconds—that the particles it spews have created a nebula spanning 150 light-years.

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