That Crab fog
was formed by the supernova explosion of a massive star in 1054 AD. and created one of the most spectacular ongoing cosmic fireworks. The radiant light show has been powered for the last millennium by a pulsating neutron star left over from the explosion known as the Crab Pulsar, which is one of the brightest known sources of powerful X-rays and gamma rays.
The crab yoke is actually so constant light that it is considered the “standard light” for studying ultra-high energy sources. In fact, a “crab” is a unit of measurement defined as the intensity of the crab yoke at the X-ray wavelength.
New measurements from China’s large high-altitude air bath observatory, also called LHAASO, indicate that the fog is capable of shining even brighter. The observatory high in the foot of the Himalayas detected a photon of energy from the nebula measuring a quadrillion electron volts, a level so high that it points to the existence of a natural particle accelerator near the center of the Crab Nebula, which is about one tenth the size on our entire solar system. Such a system would be able to activate electrons to levels 20,000 times that accelerators designed on Earth in places like CERN can achieve.
A paper from the LHAASO Collaboration, led by Zhen Cao at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was published in the latest issue of the journal Science.
A statement from the Chinese Academy of Sciences reports that the new measurement could revise the standard light for ultra-high energy sources upwards by more than 1,000 times from the previous baseline set by previous observations of the Crab Yoke.
LHAASO “has accurately measured the brightness above 3.5 orders of magnitude for standard high energy economy candles, thereby calibrating a new standard for ultra-high energy (UHE) gamma ray sources.”
In fact, scientists suggest that the level of acceleration occurring within the Crab Yoke is approaching the absolute theoretical limit according to our current understanding of physics.
LHAASO, which is brand new and not even fully operational yet, promises to help scientists provide a more in-depth picture of what exactly is possible in such powerful and violent corners of the cosmos.
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