XMM-Newton telescope. Artwork of the XMM (X-ray Multi-Mirror)-Newton X-ray telescope observing a supernova remnant. This European Space Agency (ESA) satellite has three separate X-ray telescopes which allow study of high-energy phenomena such as supernovae and black holes. Each of the X-ray telescopes contains 58 concentric mirrors, positioned so as to glance X-rays onto the detectors at the telescope's rear (lower left). The telescope has a highly elliptical orbit around Earth, reaching 114, 000 kilometres away at its furthest point. This allows it to observe from above Earth's large radiation belts. XMM-Newton was launched on 10th December 1999.
© DAVID DUCROS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Crab nebula and Zeta Tauri star
Crab nebula (M1, upper right) and the star Zeta Tauri (lower left). The Crab nebula is a supernova remnant, expanding shells of gas cast off by a supernova, the explosive death of a massive star. The Crab nebula is notable as its explosion was recorded by Chinese and Arab astronomers in 1054 AD, when it appeared as a new star, which was visible in daylight and faded slowly over two years before becoming invisible to the naked eye. The supernova remnant itself was discovered in 1731, although it takes its M1 classification from its later discovery by Charles Messier in 1758, when he gave it the first number in his catalogue of objects. Photographed by the 1.22 metres Oschin Telescope, Mount Palomar, California, USA.
© DAVIDE DE MARTIN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Optical image of the Vela supernova remnant
Optical image of the Vela supernova remnant (SNR), a roughly circular shell of fine luminous gasfilaments about 1500 light years from Earth.Almost at centre of the shell is pulsar 0833-45, arapidly spinning neutron star which is believed tobe the remains of a star that exploded some 12, 000years ago. This image was obtained by combining 3photos taken at different wavelengths by the UKSchmidt Telescope in Australia; it revealed afaint blue rim, of unknown cause, which lies justoutside the brighter red glow of the filaments.
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© Royal Observatory, Edinburgh/Aatb/Science Photo Library