“My eureka moment was in the dead of night, the early hours of the morning, on a cold, cold night, and my feet were so cold, they were aching. But when the result poured out of the charts, you just forget all that. You realize instantly how significant this is—what it is you’ve really landed on—and it’s great!” -Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, on the discovery of the first pulsar
Nearly 1,000 years ago, in 1054, a massive star in the constellation of Taurus, invisible at some 6,500 light years away, exploded in a type II supernova. Today, its remnant measures 10 light years across, while its inner core has a rapidly spinning neutron star that rotates in a mere 30 milliseconds.
Hubble and Chandra not only reveal the nebular structure, but also show the inner, pulsing region, revealing matter accelerated by electrons moving at nearly the speed of light. It’s a beautiful show unlike anything we’ve ever seen.