M1 The Crab Nebula

The Crab Nebula (M1) is the remnants of a supernova explosion in July or August 1054 AD.  Chinese astronomers observed and recorded the event as a bright new star in the heavens.  They observed the start to be about 6 times brighter than Venus in the evening sky. The populations of the world viewed this star during the day for a month! A supernova of this magnitude if it were to occur 50 light years away from us, would completely destroy all life on earth from the enormous radiation bursts.

Above: 35cm SCT, ST7, 10 min in each of LRGB

This is the first of three recorded supernova events in our galaxy. The others were in 1572 and 1604. M1 also happens to be the first object that Charles Messier included into his famous catalog.

At the heart of the nebula lies one of the first discovered pulsars.  it is the fastest and most energetic pulsar that we know of formed from a supernova explosion. Because 

Below: 5 minute LRGB image (20 image integration).  ST7 camera. 5 minute exposures in 2x binned mode were used for the color layers.

of the immense energy radiated from this pulsar, the nebula emits more light than 75,000 times our own sun.

The Crab nebula lies approximately 7000 light years away and due to its proximity and relatively "newness" it serves nicely as a supernova model.  We study changes in the nebula over the years to see how gas clouds expand after a cataclysmic event.