History of the World: Witnessing a Supernova

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crab

On July 5, 1054, people all over the world must have been pretty stunned when a giant star bit the dust. The star had burned up its energy, collapsed in on itself and burst from the pressure. It was so bright that it could be seen all over the world - Irish, Japanese, Chinese, Arab and the Anasazi Indians in the New Mexico/Arizona area all have documentation referring to a similar incident during the same time frame. The Europeans almost definitely saw it as well, but documentation is markedly scarce - either they didn't really care or were so scared that they just didn't want to refer to it.

The explosion was so massive that scientists were able to study it 600 years later when the telescope was invented - gas and dust about seven light years from Earth could still be seen. In 1774, it was finally given a name - the Crab Nebula. Apparently someone thought it looked like a crustacean.

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October 10, 2008 - 5:20am
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