See the Crab Nebula from 5 different observatories

May 12, 2017, 8:21 a.m.
The Crab Nebula with layered views from VLA, Spitzter, Hubble, XMM-Newton and the Chandra X-ray
Photo: NASA, ESA, G. Dubner (IAFE, CONICET-University of Buenos Aires) et al.; A. Loll et al.; T. Temim et al.; F. Seward et al.; VLA/NRAO/AUI/NSF; Chandra/CXC; Spitzer/JPL-Caltech; XMM-Newton/ESA; and Hubble/STScI

We've known about the Crab Nebula in some fashion since 1054 A.D. That's when Chinese astronomers first noticed this incredibly bright "guest star" (actually a star going supernova) in the sky. The star faded from memory until the advent of telescopes, but by then, the star had disappeared and in its place was an expansive nebula that came to be called the Crab Nebula.

Thanks to five different observatories, we now have a composite view of the nebula, and it's pretty darn stunning in all its forms, as the GIF below demonstrates.

A gif of the Crab Nebula from multiple observatories data-verified=

The layers of the composite image are as follows: the VLA (radio) in red; Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared) in yellow; Hubble Space Telescope (visible) in green; XMM-Newton (ultraviolet) in blue; and Chandra X-ray Observatory (X-ray) in purple. The end result of all these images is a celestial knockout. It's also a peek behind the scenes at how all those epic space photos we know and love come together.