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NASA spies spooky dead star glowing at nebula's heart

Peer into the cosmic horror story of the Crab Nebula and the still-beating remnant of a star at its center.

Crab Nebula
Revisit the Crab Nebula just in time for Halloween.
NASA and ESA, Acknowledgment: M. Weisskopf/Marshall Space Flight Center

The scientists at NASA love to find Halloween parallels out in space. This year, the Hubble Space Telescope gives us an eerie image of the Crab Nebula with a interstellar version of Edgar Allen Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart" beating at its center.

A dead neutron star lies inside the glowing wisps of the nebula. NASA notes the star has "the same mass as the sun but is squeezed into an ultra-dense sphere that is only a few miles across and 100 billion times stronger than steel." This image, released on Thursday, comes from observations made in 2012, but the green tint was added to give it a Halloween feel.

The neutron star spins rapidly and "produces a deadly magnetic field that generates an electrifying 1 trillion volts." It's a real-life horror story unfolding at the heart of a nebula. NASA evokes the imagery of Poe's short story about a murderer undone by the sound of his victim's heart.

The Crab Nebula resides 6,500 light-years away in the Taurus constellation, but can be seen by Earth-bound telescopes. Perhaps, if it's really quiet on a dark, dark night, you can hear the beating of its hideous heart...louder! louder! louder!