Observations of the crab Nebula's asymmetrical development

A. M. Loll, Steven Desch, Paul Scowen, J. P. Foy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We present the first Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Planetary Camera-2 imaging survey of the entire Crab Nebula, in the filters F502N ([O III] emission), F673N ([S II]), F631N ([O I]), and F547M (continuum). We use our mosaics to characterize the pulsar wind nebula (PWN) and its three-dimensional structure, the ionizational structure in the filaments forming at its periphery, the speed of the shock driven by the PWN into surrounding ejecta (by inferring the cooling rates behind the shock), and the morphology and ionizational structure of the Rayleigh-Taylor (R-T) fingers. We quantify a number of asymmetries between the northwest (NW) and southeast (SE) quadrants of the Crab Nebula. The lack of observed filaments in the NW, and our observations of the spatial extent of [O III] emission lead us to conclude that cooling rates are slower, and therefore the shock speeds are greater, in the NW quadrant of the nebula, compared with the SE. We conclude that R-T fingers are longer, more ionizationally stratified, and apparently more massive in the NW than in the SE, and the R-T instability appears more fully developed in the NW.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number152
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 10 2013


  • ISM: individual objects (Crab Nebula)
  • ISM: supernova remnants
  • shock waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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