The John N. Bahcall Lecture

Exploring the Crab Nebula with the Hubble, Chandra, and Fermi Space Telescopes

Feb 25 2011 - 7:30pm
Museum in Washington, DC
Free, Tickets Required

6:30 pm Hear a Discovery: audio of the first identification of a pulsar in the Crab, circa 1968

7:00 pm “Meet the Lecturer” Q & A session

7:30 pm Lecture

8:15 pm Stargazing through Telescopes on South Terrace (weather permitting)

Ever since its discovery in the eighteenth century, the Crab Nebula has surprised astronomers and taught astrophysicists much of what they have come to take for granted about the universe. We now know that the Crab is an expanding remnant of a supernova explosion that was observed 957 years ago and that it left behind a neutron star spinning thirty times a second. This neutron star - about the size of Washington DC - has a very strong magnetic field and acts as a powerful electrical generator which ultimately lights up the nebula. During the past year, the new Fermi telescope has seen rapid flares from the Crab which strongly suggest that it contains electrons with the highest energy known to be associated with any cosmic source. Combining these observations with recent discoveries made by the Chandra and Hubble telescopes is leading to a much better understanding of astrophysics at the highest energies and what it means in our world.

Dr. Blandford is a renowned astro-particle physicist who was the chairman of the National Academy of Sciences Decadal Survey (2011-2020) and holds the John N. Bahcall Distinguished Lectureship at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

This Lecture is made possible by the Hubble Space Telescope Project Science Office.