Crab Nebula Supernova Remnant (Spitzer/IRAC-MIPS Image)

spitzer_sig05-004a June 11, 2005

Creator: Spitzer Space Telescope, Pasadena, CA, USA

Image Source:

The Crab Nebula is the shattered remnant of a massive star that ended its life in a massive supernova explosion. Nearly a thousand years old, the supernova was noted in the constellation of Taurus by Chinese astronomers in the year 1054 AD.

This view of the supernova remnant obtained by the Spitzer Space Telescope shows the infrared view of this complex object. The blue region traces the cloud of energetic electrons trapped within the star's magnetic field, emitting so-called "synchrotron" radiation. The yellow-red features follow the well-known filamentary structures that permeate this nebula. Though they are known to contain hot gasses, their exact nature is still a mystery that astronomers are examining.

The energetic cloud of electrons are driven by a rapidly rotating neutron star, or pulsar, at its core. The nebula is about 6,500 light-years away from the Earth, and is 5 light-years across.

This false-color image presents images from Spitzer's Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) and Multiband Imaging Photometer (MIPS) at 3.6 (blue), 8.0 (green), 24 (red) microns.

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Image Details

Image Type
Object Name
Crab Nebula Messier 1 M1 NGC 1952
Subject - Milky Way
Nebula » Type » Supernova Remnant


6,300 light years

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 5h 34m 23.8s
DEC = 22° 3’ 55.0”
North is 1.3° CCW
Field of View
8.8 x 8.8 arcminutes

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Near-IR) 3.6 µm
Arrow_left_green Spitzer (IRAC) Infrared (Mid-IR) 8.0 µm
Arrow_left_red Spitzer (MIPS) Infrared (Mid-IR) 24.0 µm