Messier 1 The Crab Nebula

Saturday , 14, March 2015 Leave a comment
Messier 1,M1,Crab Nebula,NGC 1952
Messier 1 SHO Version

Distance: 6,300 Light Years
Magnitude: 8.4
Size: 7 x 5 Arc-minutes
Age: Approx. 1000 Years
Telescope: TPO RC10
Camera: QSI 683
Mount: AP 1100
Exposures: SII 20×900 Bin 1, Ha 16×900 Bin 1, OIII 14×900 Bin 1

Messier 1, also known as the Crab Nebula, is a supernova remnant in the constellation Taurus. A supernova remnant is what is left after a star explodes. The first record of it was on July 4, 1054 by Chinese astronomers. At that time it appeared to the naked eye about 4x brighter than Venus plus was visible for the first 23 days and 653 nights. M1 is expanding in all directions at a very fast rate of 1,800 km/second. It is expanding fast enough to see visible changes in images captured a decade apart. The brightest areas of the Crab Nebula are filaments that consist of the outer layers of the former star.

The progenitor star, which is the star that caused the supernova, is thought to have been between 9-11 solar masses in size. Of course this is an estimate but typically stars less than 8 solar masses produce Type Ia supernova that later take shape as planetary nebula. Supernova from stars with over 12 solar masses do not have the same chemical composition as M1. Messier 1 is a Type II supernova which is the result of a massive star collapsing upon itself and then exploding. The progenitor star of M1 is now a pulsar that rotates at 30 times per second emitting massive amounts of energy in all electromagnetic spectrum. It is this massive amount of energy that is producing the fast rate of expansion.

This image was captured from my house in a Bortle 6 zone. The conditions were not ideal as the humidity was in the 80-90% range with some passing Cirrus clouds but there was no wind. I really wanted to get this target with a long focal length scope. It has been on my to do list for three years now and I want to try it again next year in LRGB from a dark site.

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