A small, dense object only twelve miles in diameter is responsible for this beautiful X-ray nebula that spans 150 light years. At the center of this image made by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is a very young and powerful pulsar, known as PSR B1509-58, or B1509 for short. The pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star which is spewing energy out into the space around it to create complex and intriguing structures, including one that resembles a large cosmic hand. In this image, the lowest energy X-rays that Chandra detects are red, the medium range is green, and the most energetic ones are colored blue. Astronomers think that B1509 is about 1700 years old and is located about 17,000 light years away.

PSR B1509-58

Neutron stars are created when massive stars run out of fuel and collapse. B1509 is spinning completely around almost 7 times every second and is releasing energy into its environment at a prodigious rate - presumably because it has an intense magnetic field at its surface, estimated to be 15 trillion times stronger than the Earth's magnetic field.

More at http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2009/b1509/

Carnival of Space

-Kimberly Arcand, CXC

Average: 5 (2 votes)


An amazing picture. This is an awesome spectacle.

I agree with you.

I agree with you.

I couldn't agree more.

I couldn't agree more. These pics are just amazing.. All I can say is "WOW" Wish we could live in such a place.

Jen D.


Thanks for sharing this great article! That is very interesting Smile I love reading and I am always searching for informative information like this.

Its really hard to imagine

Its really hard to imagine that cosmic and galactic occurrences takes 100s of years to be detected ( as feeble signals ) by us. What is truly amazing is - all the Hubble images we are seeing are millions of years old - so we are basically seeing how the universe was "X" light years ago by all the mega telescopes. So even if there is a major intergalactic occurrence - it can theoretically take hundreds or millions of years to cause any disruption to the earth. Its a wonder actually.

Wow, the space is really

Wow, the space is really amazing!

Amazing Pictures

Your blog is really interesting. I especially like the picture you've chosen for Young Pulsar. How do you get that pictures ? halı yıkama

Speed of light and age of PSR B1509-58

Am I mistaken, or is x-ray radiation still limited by the speed of light? At 17,000 light years distance, how can we be detecting this object if it is only 1,700 years old? Seems to me that someone underestimated the age of this pulsar by at least a factor of 10.

Re: Speed of light and age of PSR B1509-58

Your thinking is exactly correct Roy, it is just the convention we typically use that is confusing. It is no different than receiving pictures of a baby through the mail. I look at a picture taken at the hospital the first day and declare the baby in the picture as "newborn" regardless of how long it took the post office to deliver the picture. Assuming a fixed time for delivering the mail, a picture received a year later will show me a one-year-old (though, in fact, by the time I get the picture the child may be a week older than that). If we watch the child grow up entirely through pictures received in the mail, it doesn't really matter how long the mail delay is (as long as it is always the same); we can simply track the age by the day on which we receive the mail.

X-rays do indeed travel at the speed of light, and PSR B1509-58 was really born in a supernova that occurred long ago. Let's assume the distance is really exactly 17,000 light years for the moment. The 1700 year "age" (assuming that is exact) really means the explosion happened 18,700 years ago, but would have first been observed here on Earth 1700 years ago. What we see now is what it looks like after 1700 years of evolution.

Pat Slane

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