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(Credit: NASA/SAO/S.Murray et al.)

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Young Pulsar Reveals Clues to Supernova

Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/S.Murray et al.

Chandra's image of 3C58, the remains of a supernova observed on Earth in 1181 AD, shows a rapidly rotating neutron star embedded in a cloud of high-energy particles. The data revealed that the neutron star, or pulsar, is rotating about 15 times a second, and is slowing down at the rate of about 10 microseconds per year.

A comparison of the rate at which the pulsar is slowing down and its age indicate that the 3C58 pulsar, one of the youngest known pulsars, is rotating just about as fast now as when it was formed. This is in contrast to the Crab pulsar, which was formed spinning much more rapidly and has slowed to about half its initial speed. Furthermore, the total X-ray luminosity of the 3C58 pulsar and its surrounding nebula is a thousand times weaker than that of the Crab and its surrounding nebula.

Scientists hope that further study of the similarities and differences in the behavior of these two pulsars, which are approximately the same ages, will shed light on the process by which they are formed, and how they pump energy into space for thousands of years after the explosion.

Fast Facts for 3C58:
Credit  NASA/CXC/SAO/S.Murray et al.
Scale  Image is 15 arcmin across.
Category  Neutron Stars/X-ray Binaries, Supernovas & Supernova Remnants
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 02h 05m 37.00s | Dec +64° 49' 48.00"
Constellation  Cassiopeia
Observation Dates  November 30, 1999
Observation Time  8 hours
Obs. IDs  129
Color Code  Intensity
Instrument  HRC
Distance Estimate  10,000 light years
Release Date  September 06, 2001