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Celestial Album
The Crab pulsar


This image, which combines data from the Hubble Space Telescope (visible light), Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared) and Chandra X-ray Observatory (X-rays) shows the Crab Pulsar. The X-ray emissions (in blue) show the location of high-energy phenomena around the rapidly spinning star. The visible and infrared light (shown in red) traces the location of debris thrown out by the supernova that destroyed the Crab Pulsar’s progenitor star. Although it is not known whether the Crab Pulsar has planets, it is thought that the debris surrounding pulsars can form planetary systems. Work by Fabrice Mottez (Paris Observatory), presented at the European Planetary Sciences Congress on 28 September, shows how electromagnetic phenomena in pulsar systems can greatly affect the motion of small bodies like asteroids and comets that form the building blocks of planets. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/J. Hester (ASU); Optical: NASA/ESA/J. Hester & A. Loll (ASU); Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Gehrz (Univ. Minn.)

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