Supernova of 1054 and Its Remnant, the Crab Nebula
The Crab Nebula and its pulsar are the remains of the historical supernova explosion observed in 1054 AD. This system, referred together as the “Crab,” has been extensively studied over the centuries. Today, it is one of the brightest sources in the sky at X-ray and gamma-ray frequencies. The Crab has often been the place where general astrophysical sources and processes have first been identified. Its role as a premier cosmic laboratory, due to its brightness and proximity, continues to this day. The Crab played key roles in understanding the connection between stellar explosions and neutron stars, acceleration of charged particles to ultrarelativistic energy, and the synchrotron and Compton emission processes. In this review, a brief history of the Crab is followed by a summary of salient observations emphasizing recent discoveries. The widely accepted theoretical interpretation of these observations is then outlined paying special attention to areas of controversy. The review concludes with a list of open questions.
We thank our colleagues in the Fermi collaboration, notably Yajie Yuan, as well as Jon Arons for many stimulating discussions of the Crab.
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