Crab Nebula - The Espistemology of THE CRAB NEBULA What do...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
The Espistemology of THE CRAB NEBULA What do we know? How do we know what we know? How do we know that we know what we know? A Note on Sources: Everything in this paper- every last piece of information- was derived from two- and-a-half sources: the SEDS website, the textbook, and from lecture. The historical information was taken almost exclusively from SEDS. The basic characteristics and composition was taken descriptions in the textbook. And my basic understanding of stars, supernova, wavelengths, neutron stars, and pulsars (which is what allowed me to not plagiarize word for word) should be attributed to lecture.
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
The Crab Nebula, as we have come to know it today, is a supernova remnant; a perfect illustration of what may remain a star’s death spectacular death. Since it’s initial discovery by Ancient Chinese in 1054, the star and it’s colorful corpse have aroused much curiosity among astronomers. That curiosity has led to revolutionary discoveries about neutron stars, pulsars, and, generally speaking, a much deeper and thorough understanding of the life process of a star. Historical Observations of Supernova 1054 Supernova 1054 was first observed on July 4, 1054, hence the name. The most well-known early documentation of its discovery is found in Chinese recordings. They observed the “guest star” to be about four times brighter than Venus (or about magnitude -6.) According to their records, the bright object in the constellation Taurus was visible in daylight, even at high noon, for 23 days, and 653 days to the naked eye in the night sky. They recorded the following description: “In the last year of the period of Chih-ho, … a guest star appeared… After more than a year it became invisible.” (Arny) But the Chinese were not the only eastern civilization to record the event. Simon Mitton, a professor of astrophysics at Cambridge University, found five independent recordings of Supernova 1054, documented in his 1978 book The Crab Nebula. Mitton credits legendary Chinese astronomer Yang Wei-Te with most of the Chinese recordings. Mitton also notes that, despite being quite active in astrological observation and recording, no Arab or European records of SN 1054 have been found. (SEDS) Thousands of miles away, the Anasazi Indian residents of Chaco County also recorded observations of SN 1054. Archaeologists found three painted symbols on the side of an Anasazi ‘great house’ called Penasco Blanco. One symbol is the moon; the other two are a handprint and a 10-point star. The handprint is believed to be Halley’s Comet, which is logical since the fingers would’ve been an easy way to represent the comet’s tail. The other is likely SN 1054, which was observed by the Chinese to be strikingly close in proximity to the crescent moon. (Seds, SkyGlobe) Observing the night sky was a vital part of Anasazi culture, so when the appearance of both Halley’s Comet and SN 1054 occurred within only a few years of each other, the Anasazi were quite naturally motivated to record them. But it is likely that
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course ASTR 10 taught by Professor ??? during the Spring '07 term at San Jose State University .

Page1 / 6

Crab Nebula - The Espistemology of THE CRAB NEBULA What do...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online